Toronto, Canada- The global spread of COVID-19 has created an imminent epidemiological threat to Syria and refugees in surrounding countries. Cases have been reported in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Israel and Turkey. North Western Syria is particularly vulnerable given a population of close to 4 million people, including 1 million IDPs, packed into densely populated areas.
Years of war and malnutrition have left many people’s immune systems compromised and the entire population susceptible to drastically higher mortality rates. It is predicted that the transmission rates will be dramatically higher than global averages due to densely populated IDP camps and multiple families living in the same dwelling.
In the past 12 months alone, 85 medical facilities have been attacked and most are currently not functional. The medical infrastructure cannot handle the existing population needs let alone a wide spread pandemic. The medical system suffers from a shortage of masks, gloves, gowns, disinfectant, thermal scanners and other medical supplies.
UOSSM calls on the international community to immediately provide personal protective equipment, thermal scanners, quarantine units and lab testing kits/ capacity to prevent this humanitarian catastrophe.
“It is not a question of if, but when an outbreak will occur. We cannot let it start, There will be no stopping it! Our staff is still recovering from a relentless bombing campaign, how can they be expected to manage a pandemic without any protective gear?” Said Dr. Hussam Al Fakir, Chairman of UOSSM International
UOSSM has developed a preparedness plan for Covid-19 as follows:
• UOSSM developed guidelines based on WHO guidelines and publications, which cover identification of the disease and how to manage the suspected cases.
• The guideline was distributed in all UOSSM PHC centers.
• UOSSM asked all health workers to attend the WHO online course “Introduction to emerging respiratory viruses, including novel coronavirus”.
• UOSSM technical field team will provide health workers in all health facilities with technical support with regards to the coronavirus.
• UOSSM will prepare IEC, posters and brochures about the virus and hygiene. They will be distributed in PHC centers.
• UOSSM’s technical team will organize a meeting with all health workers in UOSSM PHC centers in order to train them on the detection of suspected cases, handling of cases, referral of cases, and reporting.
UOSSM is coordinating closely with the WHO and other partners to manage this situation as it develops.
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