Massive funding shortfall for health services to Syrians refugees

Massive funding shortfall for health services to Syrians refugees
2 min read
25 September, 2015
The WHO is struggling to meet the growing needs of millions of Syrians displaced by war due to crippling funding shortfalls, said the agency on 24 September.
The WHO supports mass vaccination campaigns in the region [AFP]

Emergency teams have been unable to meet the growing needs of millions of Syrians displaced by war due to crippling funding shortfalls, the World Health Organisation said on 24 September.

The UN agency for international public health called on donors to increase their support for countries in the region hosting Syrian regugees.

"It is imperative that the health sector in this region is adequately funded to ensure refugee and host population needs are catered to," said Dr Nada Al Ward, WHO's emergency support team coordinator based in Amman, Jordan.

"Migration into Europe may alleviate some of the burden on these countries, but not much," she added, but said support from the international community was needed.

According to the WHO, the 2015 Syria response plan is only 30 percent funded, and that the health component of the regional refugee and resilience plan is only has 17 percent of the money it needs.

Ward said the need for support continues to grow. "More than four years on and we're seeing the same urgent health needs we saw in 2011, but on a much larger scale – trauma cases, severe mental health needs, communicable and non-communicable diseases, reproductive health issues."

WHO staff have enabled 13.8 million people across Syria to access treatment this year despite the conflict limiting access to some areas. 

Assistance has been increased by the ability of many of staff to work across the border from bases in Turkey and Jordan.

The agency helps Syrians - as well as people in host countries - get access to life-saving medicines.

It also provides technical assistance to ministries of health, train healthcare workers, supports mass vaccination campaigns, and helps monitor outbreaks of communicable diseases.

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The human cost of the Syrian civil war has been immense.

Over 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced and 12.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UNHCR – the UN refugee agency. In addition more than 4 million are registered as refugees in other countries.

"With the conflict in Syria showing no sign of abating, it is unclear how long the emergency health response will be needed in the Middle East," WHO said.

The agency warned that funds are not keeping pace with growing needs and that the health sector is struggling to keep systems from collapsing.