Today, on International Nurses’ Day, we celebrate the contributions that nurses make to society, often in the most challenging and dangerous of circumstances. The conflict in Syria and the COVID-19 pandemic are stark reminders of this and the vital role nurses’ play.
The war in Syria sadly marked 10-years in mid-March this year. This ongoing conflict has caused massive destruction and humanitarian crisis for more than 6 million internally displaced people and 5.6 million refugees.
Before the war, the country’s health system provided high-level care. However, over the past ten years, the government of Syria and its allies have systematically targeted health care professionals and facilities, both of which are protected under international humanitarian law.
To date, over 930 healthcare workers have been killed* and more than 70% of healthcare workers have been forced to flee due to violence**. This has left those who remain working in a fragmented, understaffed, and underfunded healthcare system.
Our work with nurses in Syria
In the Northwest of Syria, Christian Aid has been implementing a 4-year EU funded education project through a local partner. The Northwest is one of the last non-government-controlled areas, and the remaining health facilities there are struggling to cope with the health needs of over 4 million people, of which the majority are internally displaced people. This has been compounded over the past year by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many healthcare workers, particularly those in non-government-controlled areas of Syria, education and training has been interrupted with few opportunities to continue.
A key component of our EU funded project has therefore focused on addressing this need through 4 specialised nursing diploma courses. The courses are reaching 125 young people with an existing background in health care. Each course consists of a combination of theoretical sessions, practical lab work, and on the job placements with hospitals.
We are proud to be supporting these young people and celebrate the life-saving work that they do under incredibly difficult circumstances.
*As of 2021 March, Physicians for Human Rights
**2021 March, IRC Report, “A Decade of Destruction: Attacks on Healthcare in Syria”