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World Vision warns of spiralling health crisis and spread of disease in Syria following earthquakes

14 Feb 2023 by World Vision
World Vision warns of spiralling health crisis and spread of disease in Syria following earthquakes

• World Vision is concerned about growing health needs in Syria where health facilities are overwhelmed by the wounded and operating at very limited capacity
• Very little humanitarian aid has reached Northwest Syria in the past 4 days, and medical supplies are running out
• Doctors have warned that children are at risk of developing hypothermia and being exposed to waterborne diseases
• Health facilities were already overstretched and waterborne disease outbreaks were occurring prior to Monday's earthquakes

World Vision is concerned about growing health needs in Syria following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Southern Türkiye and Northern Syria on February 6th.

Humanitarian aid has been slow to reach Northwest Syria and the very first cross-border shipments arrived on Friday – more than three days after the earthquake hit.

World Vision’s Syria Response Director, Johan Mooij, says he’s worried about a lack of medical supplies and says local stocks are quickly running out.

“We are working tirelessly to make sure the most urgent needs are covered during these very challenging times.

“So far, very little aid has made it into Northwest Syria while hundreds of thousands of children and their families remain stranded out in the cold. Hospital facilities are particularly overwhelmed by the wounded and need more medical supplies,” he says.

Mooij says injured women, men and children have been lining up emergency rooms for days and needs are growing as more survivors are pulled from under the rubble in critical condition.

He says doctors have warned that children are at risk of developing hypothermia due to the extreme weather conditions.

World Vision New Zealand National Director, Grant Bayldon, says fears are growing that waterborne diseases such as cholera or hepatitis A will begin to spread due to the lack of water infrastructure and crowded shelters.

“Syria was already experiencing a cholera outbreak prior to the earthquake, but this disaster has created the perfect environment for a health crisis – fuelled by reduced healthcare capacity and disease outbreaks,” he says.

He says malnutrition and stunting are also on the rise in Syria, with mothers and children being particularly impacted. Their situation will only deteriorate if humanitarian aid is not scaled up accordingly.

World Vision teams responded quickly last Monday to assess the most urgent needs on the ground.

We have provided 17,000 litres of fuel to health facilities as well as search and rescue teams in Northwest Syria to enable them to keep running their operations transporting and treating the wounded.

World Vision has also provided much needed heaters and fuel to more than 1,605 impacted communities seeking refuge in collective shelters scattered across the Northwest. This will allow displaced families to keep the power running and stay warm until more temporary solutions are found.

“Humanitarian access must remain open and assistance must be scaled up so that we can avoid a much bigger crisis.

“Children are in desperate need of support in Syria. Even before Monday’s earthquake, conflict had meant that hundreds of thousands were already struggling to survive and now their homes have been devastated, leaving them with no shelter, no schools and no medical services,” Bayldon says.

World Vision New Zealand has launched an appeal to provide urgent supplies to children and families in Türkiye and Syria. To donate go to https://www.worldvision.org.nz/ or text RESPOND to 5055.