Global Health Equity Foundation leads the creation of a partnership to address Syria’s post-conflict health needs.
Geneva, SWITZERLAND – Nearly seventeen months into the current conflict in Syria, violence continues to intensify across the nation of roughly 23 million. As a result, thousands have been killed and even more displaced, both internally and externally. The ongoing crisis has placed a massive burden on Syria’s healthcare system and on its ability to adequately address the needs of its citizens. Collaborative efforts and immediate action are needed.
In response to this need for immediate assistance and comprehensive future planning, a consortium of Syrian medical organizations, along with expert physicians and academics, constituted the Syrian International Coalition for Health (SICH). Formed in March 2012, and hosted by Global Health Equity Foundation (GHEF), SICH’s founding members include, among others, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), the Syrian British Medical Society (SBMS), and Middle East Critical Care Assembly (MCCA). The Coalition’s administrative headquarters is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
SICH’s mission is to strengthen health-related ministries and organizations through a process of coalition building. The Coalition believes that this goal can be achieved by improving coordination and communication among different Syrian medical organizations, and by providing healthcare leadership and strategic planning at the country level. SICH maintains a nonpartisan approach to its concerted activities and efforts.
Four main principles guide SICH’s mission: quality, equity, sustainability, and transparency.
On 12 June 2012, SICH was formally introduced at GHEF’s Consensus Building Forum entitled New Methodology – Analysing Health Equity Gaps, in London, England. SICH also hosted a Consensus Building Forum at SAMS’s 12th Annual International Convention in Istanbul, Turkey, on 3 July 2012, where a plan of action and potential projects were discussed.
Following these fruitful meetings, SICH refined its structure and assigned strategic operational duties and responsibilities. The structure includes a General Assembly, Advisory Board and Executive Committee, with the latter body comprised of branches covering matters such as funding, external and internal affairs, networking and project supervision.
Currently, SICH is preparing to submit its first publication, Syria: Health Crisis, to peer-reviewed medical journals. This paper has been translated into Arabic and will also be circulated among wider audiences of the Middle East. Syria: Health Crisis outlines the negative effects of violence on Syria’s healthcare system while also recognizing achievements that were made prior to the recent conflict. This short piece provides a backdrop for future studies, including SICH’s plan for Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA), prevalence of communicable diseases, and symptom load and risk factors of mental health problems (including post-traumatic stress disorder among Syrian refugees).
Given the volatile nature of the conflict in Syria, SICH is cognizant of the need to remain aware of developments on the ground in order to provide the most accurate assessments of conditions faced by displaced and refugee Syrians. The Coalition continues to work on formulating projects that aim to fulfill this imperative, and on 31 October 2012 will present preliminary findings in Geneva as part of GHEF’s one-day symposium Global Health Equity in Times of Crisis.
Global Health Equity Foundation is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of people who lack access to health education, prevention services, and healthcare. For more information on Global Health Equity Foundation or any of its projects, please visit www.ghef.org.