Supporting emergency response in Aleppo from Gaziantep, Turkey

WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.

The siege of eastern Aleppo in the northern Syrian Arab Republic has devastated the city’s health system, with fewer than 30 doctors now available to care for more than 270 000 people. Hospitals are overwhelmed and struggling to respond to the rapidly increasing needs. Health personnel are working under extremely stressful conditions, with continued airstrikes heightening the fear of attack. Every hospital in the city has been hit at least once; only seven hospitals remain in service, and these are only partially functional.

Increasing numbers of injured patients require trauma care inside the besieged city, and health workers have only limited capacity to handle these cases – especially during the prehospital phase. To help build capacity among health workers, WHO conducted its first remote training session on prehospital management via video-conference on 3 October from Gaziantep, Turkey.

A total of 23 nurses and paramedics in eastern Aleppo took part. “The prehospital phase, when patients are transferred from the scene to a hospital, is the most critical phase in trauma care,” said Dr Mohamed El Gazzar, WHO Technical Officer for Surgery and Trauma Management. “Almost 80–90% of deaths occur during this phase, and so it is critical that health professionals are trained on how to handle patients properly. This can significantly increase the patients’ chance of survival.”

Hundreds of people in eastern Aleppo are unable to receive the medical treatment they need, owing to the besiegement of the city. As soon as access becomes possible, WHO is prepared to facilitate medical evacuations and is pre-positioning emergency and surgical medicines and supplies from its hubs in Gaziantep and Damascus to reinforce its cross-border and cross-line response.