Article initially published in ATS Journales on November 23, 2015 and written by Mohammed Z. Sahloul, Jaber Monla-Hassan, Abdulghani Sankari, Mazen Kherallah, Bassel Atassi, Safwan Badr, Aula Abbara, and Annie Sparrow.
The Syrian crisis, now in its fifth year, has created an unprecedented strain on health services and systems due to the protracted nature of the warfare, the targeting of medics and health care infrastructure, the exodus of physicians and nurses, the shortage of medical supplies and medications, and the disruption of medical education and training. Within a few short years, the life expectancy of resident Syrians has declined by 20 years. Over the first 4 years of the conflict, more than 75,000 civilians died from injuries incurred in the violence. More than twice as many civilians, including many women and children, have died prematurely of infectious and noninfectious chronic diseases for want of adequate health care. Doctors, local administrators, and nongovernmental organizations are struggling to manage the consequences of the conflict under substandard conditions, often using unorthodox methods of health care delivery in field hospitals and remotely by telehealth communication. Much-needed medical supplies are channeled through dangerous routes across the borders from Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Physicians in the United States and other western nations have helped Syrian physicians make the most of the situation by providing training on introducing innovations in technology and treatment. Portable ultrasound machines have been introduced and are being used extensively in the management of trauma and shock. This report, prepared by members of the Syrian American Medical Society, documents current needs for health care relief within Syria, focusing on pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, and some of the efforts currently underway to meet those needs.
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