After five years of ravaging and devastating conflict, the damage to the health system has resulted in increased mortality and outbreaks of communicable and vaccine preventable diseases. Children across the country are getting sick more often. According to Syrian medical organizations, over half of all premature deaths in areas under siege have occurred in children under 14 years old, a quarter of them infants. Half of all the medical staff have fled Syria and only one third of hospitals are functional. Each doctor used to look after the needs of around 600 people – now it’s up to 4,000. In some areas, conditions are much worse: in Aleppo, only 10 pediatricians are left to care for an estimated 140,000 children.
Over the course of the conflict, diseases have returned to Syria: polio paralyzed 36 children in Syria before it was contained by a series of immunization campaigns. No new cases of polio have been recorded since January 2014, but other diseases continue to emerge, including measles, leishmaniosis, and hepatitis. Waterborne diseases (WBDs), such as typhoid fever, are spreading in the besieged areas and most of the Northern areas where WASH facilities are not functional.