WHO delivers largest cross-border shipment of health supplies to northwest Syrian Arab Republic to date

WHO/L. Mackenzie

The World Health Organization (WHO) supported close to 180 health facilities in northwest Syrian Arab Republic in September 2018 with essential medical supplies, totaling over 104 tonnes worth US$ 1.3 million. This is one of the biggest monthly shipments to date this year from its operational hub in Turkey, delivered to prepare for any possible escalation of conflict.

With these supplies, health facilities will be able to provide approximately 677 000 medical treatments for surgery and trauma, communicable and non-communicable diseases, and more. Medical supplies allow health facilities to remain functional and continue providing medical services to both trauma patients and those in need of primary health care.

“Having regular access to medical supplies enables health facilities to provide live-saving health services and medical care. WHO is committed to working with partners and donors to ensure that available health resources reach the most vulnerable people in need,” said Dr Annette Heinzelmann, Emergency Coordinator for WHO in Gaziantep, Turkey.

Regular supply line vital to ensure continued service delivery

Through a monthly distribution system from Turkey into northwest Syrian Arab Republic, WHO’s operational hub in Gaziantep regularly feeds the supply chain with life-saving medicines, medical kits and medical supplies, with amounts constantly adjusted according to needs reported by its partners and assessments. At the moment, this is the safest and quickest route for the delivery of supplies into this area and a consistent and efficient supply line across the border has proven key in providing humanitarian assistance. There remain many challenges such as the volatile security situation, intermittent or blocked access and attacks on health care.

Dr Jorge Martinez, Health Cluster Coordinator for the cross-border efforts, said: “Our partners inside Syrian Arab Republic are constantly adapting to the changing situation, and we must support them in any way possible to ensure that there is access to health care. It is key that we coordinate and work together to ensure there is efficient use of supplies so that there are no gaps or duplications in services.”

One response from two hubs

Due to the nature of the conflict, it is essential to establish various access routes to the conflict-affected areas to serve almost three million people living in northwest Syrian Arab Republic, including Idleb, western Aleppo, northern Hama and eastern Latakia.

Coordinating its response to northwest Syrian Arab Republic from its two operational hubs in Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, and Gaziantep, Turkey, WHO and its partners have delivered over 407 tonnes of medicines and medical kits to provide more than 3.9 million treatments in northwest Syrian Arabic Republic since the start of the year.

WHO’s cross-border activities are supported by UK Department for International Development, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs pooled funds, the United States Agency for International Development and the Governments of Japan, Norway and Sweden.