“Healthcare Workers in #Syria Must be Protected According to the UN”

The original advisory opinion was requested by...

The original advisory opinion was requested by the World Health Organization in 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceHealthNews says that Healthcare workers in Syria must be protected, senior United Nations humanitarian officials have said issuing a fresh call for the protection of medical facilities and for safe access to medicines, vaccines and other vital humanitarian aid in the country.

“It is of the interest of both parties in the conflict and of all Syrian people to preserve the neutrality and the functionality of health infrastructure,” UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan, and Executive Director of the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) Anthony Lake said late last night.

In the <” https://docs.unocha.org/sites/dms/Documents/Joint%20Statement%20on%20Syria,%20OCHA,%20UNICEF,%20WHO%206Dec2013.pdf“> joint statement, the officials “strongly condemn” attacks on health and any other civilian facilities in Syria and added that they are “deeply concerned by the serious implications for patients, health personnel and provision of critical medical supplies”.

Over 60 per cent of public hospitals are not functioning in Syria and a similar percentage of ambulances stolen or damaged, according to UN figures.

“At a time when hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, it is vital that these facilities be protected and medical staff be allowed to provide urgent medical, surgical and obstetric care to patients without any risk,” the officials said.

They noted that attacks against health facilities can be considered a war crime under international law.

“All parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, health facilities and health professionals,” they urged.

Governor Patrick signs an Act Relative to Assa...

Governor Patrick signs an Act Relative to Assault and Battery on Health Care Providers. (Photo credit: Office of Governor Patrick)

Despite the insecurity and serious access challenges the UN and partners have helped vaccinate more than 3.3 million children against measles and polio in recent weeks, according to figures provided by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Meanwhile, over 8,000 women have received reproductive and maternal health services, the UN agency said, and hundreds of thousands of people with chronic health problems are being treated with medical supplies and training provided by the UN and partners.

The statement also deplored the escalating violence in a conflict that has killed more than 100, 000 people and driven some 6.5 million others from their homes since opposition protesters first sought to oust the Government of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.

On Tuesday, Ms. Amos briefed the UN Security Council behind closed doors on challenges to humanitarian access in the war-torn country. She said that despite “modest progress” with the Government on speeding up visa issuance and increasing the number of relief distribution hubs, perhaps 250,000 Syrians remain cut off from aid.

#anthony-lake, #baroness-valerie-amos, #health-care-provider, #margaret-chan, #syria, #under-secretary-general-for-humanitarian-affairs-and-emergency-relief-coordinator, #unicef, #united-nations, #united-nations-office-for-the-coordination-of-humanitarian-affairs, #valerie-amos-baroness-amos, #world-health-organization

#(UNICEF) is Calling for Greater Efforts to Ensure Humanitarian Access that will Safeguard the Lives of Thousands of Children#Peace

Flag of UNICEF

Flag of UNICEF (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the plight of civilians trapped by the Syria conflict grows more desperate, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is calling for greater efforts to ensure humanitarian access that will safeguard the lives of thousands of children.

The agency warned that children continue to be cut off from urgently needed assistance, including vaccinations, safe drinking water, shelter, education and psychological support.

“As fighting continues, some areas have been under siege for months on end, leaving families struggling to survive,” <“http://www.unicef.org/media/media_70440.html“>said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Syria’s children have suffered too much, for too long, and will continue to bear the consequences of this crisis for many years to come.

“We must be able to reach these children, urgently and without restrictions – and the various parties to the conflict can make that happen by immediately allowing humanitarian workers to reach them with life-saving assistance,” he said.

Over two years into the conflict, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives and forcibly displaced almost one-third of the country’s population, “the needs remain immense,” said Mr. Lake.

“To get to those we have still not reached, humanitarian workers have to be able to move freely and safely in all parts of the country and essential services must be protected.”

UNICEF

UNICEF (Photo credit: UNICEF Ethiopia)

One practical example of how unimpeded access could save lives, he noted, is the forthcoming Child Health Day vaccination campaign that aims to protect children inside Syria from vaccine-preventable diseases, with a special focus on the 700,000 children that have not been reached through the most recent immunization campaigns.

UNICEF added that vital services such as health and education also require special protection, stressing that schools and health facilities should not be targeted in fighting, but rather recognized as ‘zones of peace’ where women and children can seek assistance and support.

The agency and its partners have faced severe difficulties for most of this year in reaching hundreds of thousands of children in Aleppo, Rural Damascus, major parts of Homs, Deir ez Zour and Rural Dara’a. Medical supplies, including vaccines, have been held up at checkpoints, and vital work on repairing water pipelines has been delayed.

Unimpeded humanitarian access, stressed UNICEF, requires clear commitments on behalf of the Syrian Government and opposition groups for, among other things, humanitarian pauses in the conflict to permit aid workers safe access and freedom of movement to deliver services and supplies to those in need.

Despite the challenges, UNICEF and its partners have been able to provide 10 million people inside the strife-torn nation with access to safe drinking water this year. They have also immunized 2 million children against measles over the last two years, and are currently delivering school supplies to enable 1 million Syrian children to resume learning in the country.

 

#acenewsservices, #anthony-lake, #child-health-day, #drinking-water, #executive-director, #humanitarian-access, #lake, #peace, #syria, #syrian-civil-war, #unicef

#Syria Adding to the Pain of War with Outbreak of Polio #Peace

Child receiving polio vaccine.

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) recently confirmed 10 cases of polio in conflict-stricken Syria, adding that health authorities in the country and neighbouring nations have already begun a comprehensive response to the outbreak.

In a <“http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/0665CEE9A5BA9B3FC1257C13003C1623?OpenDocument“>briefing to reporters in Geneva, WHO Communications Officer Oliver Rosenbauer said that out of 22 reported cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), 10 had been confirmed as being the result of Wild Polio Virus Type 1. The remaining 12 cases are still being investigated.

The cases were initially reported on 17 October in the Deir Al Zour province in the north-east region of Syria. Due to the protracted conflict, which has displaced millions, Syria had already been considered at high-risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. However, the country has not experienced a case of polio since 1999.

Polio, whose virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine attacking the nervous system, is highly infectious and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.

Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, and stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis and among those paralyzed, five to 10 per cent die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.

Mr. Rosenbauer said the next step was to look at the isolated viruses and identify where they came from, to shed light on the source of the outbreak.

The 22 people who have been tested are children, mostly toddlers less than two years old. All of them appeared to be under or unimmunized, with some having received one dose of a vaccine and others not receiving any vaccination at all. Mr. Rosenbauer said the children came down with fever and were then paralysed.

WHO

WHO (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHO spokesperson Glenn Thomas added that health authorities in Syria and neighbouring countries had already begun the planning and implementation of the comprehensive outbreak response.

Meanwhile, a UN spokesperson in New York reported today that Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF, ended a two-day visit to Damascus, where he said that the Syrian Government and agency had agreed on the importance of reaching hundreds of thousands of children in some of the worst-affected parts of the war-torn country with life saving vaccines, including those against polio.

He said that Mr. Lake said that immunizing children is in its very nature non-political and has no connection to any military considerations. Mr. Lake said that, with cases of polio now emerging in Syria for the first time since 1999, vaccinating children against polio is an urgent and critical priority for Syria and for the whole world.

#anthony-lake, #flaccid-paralysis, #geneva, #infectious-disease, #opendocument, #poliomyelitis, #rosenbauer, #syria, #world-health-organization