Azhar Vadi | 13 March 2020 | Image: Google
While advanced nations with established health facilities have been struggling to cope with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, a real fear has developed for people living in countries where national health capacities have been under strain or almost non-existent.
One such area of medical concern has been north western regions of Syria where millions of refugees have been holed up in refugee camps experiencing deplorable health conditions.
The question of concern many have asked, “What would happen if the virus made an unfortunate appearance in any of these camps? ”
German news agency Deutsche Welle has themed the refugee issue as a “political football” that has created fragile circumstances of the roughly 12 million people who have fled the Syrian conflict across Turkey and the Middle East.
Political rhetoric aside, the reality for people on the ground in NW Syria has become a serious concern.
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) spokesperson, Hedinn Halldorsson, told international media that Syria’s “fragile health systems may not have the capacity to detect and respond to an epidemic… All of Syria has a fragmented health system, basically a health system on its knees, so it goes without saying there are huge challenges.”
As a result of the recent fighting, the refugee population has increased from half a million to over 3 million in just a few months.
Aid workers on the ground have appealed for hand soap and funding to create education campaigns informing people about the importance of enhanced hygiene practices under the current circumstances. It’s all about preventing any cases from reaching people and then spreading in these camps.
But even this is a challenge in a place like Syria where no clean water exists in many of these highly populated camps compounding the work for relief organisations.
That, however, does not deter the effort of trying to prevent a possible health disaster. Salaam Foundation, working with its partners, has released funding to assist in the delivery of hand soaps. Medical practitioners have consistently noted that hand sanitation is a key step in preventing the spread of the virus.
“We have set aside funding after appeals from our ground partners and hygiene programmes will be rolled out,” said Salaam Foundation’s head, Fatima Sookharia.
“This is a need like everywhere else in the world. The only difference is that for Syrian refugees, there is very little internal and external support. Syrians are human as well and need all our support.”
Contributions to Salaam Foundation’s ongoing Syrian relief programme can be made to:
Branch 250 737
Ref: Syr + name (Zakat/Lillah/Sadaqa)
For more information, please contact Fatima Sookharia at firstname.lastname@example.org