Syrian Arab Republic: Crossing borders with life-saving support

January 2016

“We’ll just have to find another way to move these kits,” says WHO’s Jennyfer Dulyx to a counterpart at a nongovernmental organization in Daraa City on the other end of the phone line.

WHO staff listening to displaced Syrian woman talking about health needs.
WHO/R. Ziade

Walking over to a map of Syrian Arab Republic affixed on her wall, she traces the Jordanian-Syrian Arab Republic border with her finger. As WHO’s health and nutrition sector coordinator based in Amman, Jordan, Jennyfer manages the logistics behind WHO’s effort to get emergency health assistance across the border to people in the southern part of Syrian Arab Republic.

Since a United Nations Security Resolution was passed in mid-2014, WHO has been coordinating the movement of life-saving supplies into Syrian Arab Republic from its hub in Jordan.

“My work involves getting surgical equipment to the hospitals that need them the most,” Jennyfer says. WHO also works with partners such as UNICEF and UNFPA, on procuring medicines and equipment for the treatment of noncommunicable diseases and to assist with births. “Health support from WHO and its partners in Damascus, which is quite substantial, cannot reach all the facilities that need it, and so we complement it with efforts from Jordan,” she explains.

Cross-border support

This cross-border support focuses on Syrian Arab Republic health facilities in areas including Al-Jeezah, Busra ash-Sham, Daraa City, and Tal Shihab.

To deliver services and supplies to areas with compromised health services, WHO cross-analyses locations reporting increases in shelling, trauma and displacement with local health actors and uses a Health Resource Availability and Mapping System (HeRAMS). The Mapping System is a database of information that shows the functionality of health facilities and availability of services, medicines and equipment. WHO then coordinates shipments of supplies earmarked for dispatch from hub warehouses via United Nations convoy.

“Our kits are designed to cater to trauma injuries,” says Jennyfer. “Injuries requiring surgery are incessant due to the ongoing conflict.”

Surrounding country support

WHO also provides support from Turkey, where it is working to improve the medical skills of Syrian Arab Republic health partners, particularly in disease surveillance.

The Organization is also working towards increasing coverage of routine immunization services in Syrian Arab Republic – a massive challenge since much of the north is under opposition control.

“We push on despite the insecurity and access challenges and will continue to provide as much support as we can from WHO hubs to strengthen our response,” says Jennyfer.

Expanding deliveries of surgical supplies

WHO’s cross-border support for 2016 will focus on improving the quality of the current health information system, expanding deliveries of surgical supplies, increasing the range and quality of primary health care services to include mental health and nutrition, and improving the referral system for trauma cases.

Almost 6.5 million Syrians remain displaced within Syrian Arab Republic and more than 4 million registered Syrian refugees are living in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.