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Old diseases return as Syrian doctors warn of ‘medical disaster’
January 7, 2015, 9:23 am

Syria is facing a “medical and humanitarian disaster” after nearly four years of war have gutted the country’s health care system, leading to a return of eradicated diseases, a group of Syrian doctors said in Paris Monday.

A lack of doctors, supplies and drugs have plunged the country back into the medical dark ages, with polio and scabies back with a vengeance as many children are no longer vaccinated, while the majority of births take place at home.

“The situation is unbearable, catastrophic and many in Syria no longer have access to medical care,” said Oubaida Al Moufti, a French-Syrian doctor and member of the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM).

A doctor from Aleppo, a former economic hub ravaged by fighting, said the city has only five hospitals — three only partially functioning — in the eastern rebel-controlled section where 360,000 people live surrounded by government forces.

“There are no more than 30 doctors, from a variety of specialities. Aside from war injuries we are seeing the resurgence of diseases like polio, tuberculosis, scabies or typhoid,” said the doctor, who gave his name only as Abdelaziz.

Another doctor described the “intolerable” situation in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus which has been under siege by loyalist forces for two years where “it is not possible to get humanitarian aid in.”

And in the IS stronghold Raqqa, home to 1.6 million people, one doctor said there were “no obstetrics, gynecological or pediatric services.” Moufti said that 80 percent of births in Syria were taking place at home.

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