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“We currently have six field hospitals and two health centres operating in Syria. I cannot tell you their location for fear of retaliation, but having worked in one, I can tell you that MSF staff are doing fantastic work under very difficult circumstances,” says Professor Paul McMaster, surgeon and President of MSF UK.
“MSF is one of the few international aid organisations assisting civilians in the opposition areas, and our presence is making a difference.
“Since June 2012, 102,828 patients have received medical attention, including for violence-related injuries such as gunshot wounds, shrapnel wounds, open fractures and injuries due to explosions.
"Nearly 5,000 surgical procedures have been carried out and we have delivered 1,516 babies inside Syria.”
In areas where MSF is not able to work directly, we have an extensive programme of remote support for Syrian medical networks, both in opposition-controlled and in government-controlled areas. Through this programme we are supporting 30 hospitals and 60 medical posts in seven governorates.
On top of this, the number of Syrians seeking refuge in neighbouring countries is increasing. So far, more than two million people have fled to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and other countries. We have provided medical care for 264,955 people in the region.
Historical: Activities Report 2012
Conflict intensified across Syria in 2012: an increasing number of casualties were reported, while access to medical care was reduced and the aid provided fell far short of what was needed.
Medical attention for the direct victims of violence is not the only problem: prevailing insecurity, the targeted destruction of health facilities and the collapse of the health system mean that many people cannot access the routine or emergency healthcare they need. As the year went on, the humanitarian situation in the country deteriorated.
Caring for the victims of conflict
Despite not receiving government authorisation to deliver medical assistance during 2012, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) decided to work in the country, in opposition-held areas. Two hospitals were set up in Idlib governorate and a third was opened in Aleppo.
A 15-bed trauma surgery unit was set up in a house in Idlib in June. It includes an operating theatre, emergency department and resuscitation room. In November, the team began to provide post-operative physiotherapy. By the end of the year, 665 surgical procedures had taken place and 2,230 patients had received emergency treatment.
The hospital team in the region of Jabal Al-Akrad, also in Idlib, first worked in a cave, and then in a converted farm, in which they set up an outpatient department, emergency department and operating theatre. The team had seen more than 7,200 patients by the end of the year. Staff also distributed basic relief items to people displaced by conflict.
The hospital in Aleppo governorate not only treats the war-wounded but also offers obstetric and all other kinds of emergency care, as well as basic health services. Staff performed on average 70 surgical procedures each month.
Expanding medical services
As access to health services worsened, MSF extended activities to basic healthcare, vaccinations and maternal care. In the Deir Ezzor area, a number of patients who faced interruptions in treatment for chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease received the medication they needed.
In addition, MSF donated tons of medicines and medical supplies to health facilities in Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, Hama, Deraa and Damascus governorates. In September, a large donation of medical supplies and relief items was made to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Damascus.
Teams also distributed relief items – including hygiene and cooking kits, and food and blankets – to the displaced and to local residents.
At the end of the year , despite repeated requests, MSF still had not received government permission to work in the country.
By the end of 2012, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees were living in neighbouring countries. MSF programmes provided medical assistance and relief in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey (see reports on these countries for more details).
At the end of 2012, MSF had 123 staff working in Syria. MSF first began working in the country in 1999.