—A graduate of the University of Aleppo medical school began working for SOS Children’s Villages at the end of August, providing medical check-ups four days a week for families. As many people are afraid to go to hospitals—which are the target of air and artillery attacks –the doctor, who is currently studying internal medicine, often makes house visits to families.
SOS Syria aims to provide basic primary health care services and health education to 12,500 people from vulnerable and displaced families.
The doctor*, 29, talks about his work helping children and families:
*The doctor’s name was withheld to protect his privacy.
What are the main health risks for displaced children and adults who are living in temporary shelters?
The risks are high. With people living in close contact with one another and with limited running water, there is a high risk that diseases will spread.
There are many common diseases I am seeing these days among children, such as gastroenteritis or malnutrition. With women we face a lot of cases of fetal malformation because of early marriage and inbreeding. We also have had cases of anemia, hypertension, lice, scabies and other skin diseases.
How important is having medical support for displaced people, especially in the case of pregnant women and children?
Medical support for pregnant women results in a healthier pregnancy, normal delivery and a healthy baby. It is very important to provide pregnant mothers with vitamins, for instance.
As for the children, the most important thing is to ensure they are vaccinated and to keep them healthy. Regular medical checks-ups go a long way to detect problems early and using medicines when needed ultimately keep people healthy.
What is it like trying to provide medical care in Aleppo?
An example of one of the hygiene kits we deliver in and around Aleppo.
Working in Aleppo’s hospitals and clinics during the war has changed my perspective on life. It is very hard for me not to think about my patients. I can’t escape thinking about them, their needs, and how to provide them with medicines.
Since fighting in Aleppo escalated in July, we’ve increased expanded our Emergency Relief Program in Syria to reach more children and families. Part of this expansion includes medical check-ups, in addition to providing safe, drinking water to 380 families daily; daily meals to 2,400 displaced families; hygiene kits including toothpaste and soap; and more.
Support Children in Syria
Now in its its sixth year, the Syrian Civil War has left millions of children displaced from their homes, caught in the line of fire and trapped in poverty