Preparing for the coronavirus pandemic
The Syrian government reported the first case of COVID-19 in the country on March 23. While no cases have been declared in Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold, the disease could spread very quickly through the region—especially in the camps, where people live in large settlements, in overcrowded conditions with little sanitation.
To prepare for this new threat, MSF has suspended its mobile clinics in Deir Hassan camp to allow its staff to attend training on infection prevention and control measures and to reduce chances of the virus spreading. In the coming days, our community health workers will hold health education sessions on coronavirus—and the disease it causes, COVID-19—in 10 settlements in Deir Hassan camp, in addition to distributing leaflets and hygiene kits.
As MSF teams turn their focus to infection control measures, they are providing assistance for the triage and screening of patients in two MSF-supported health centers in Deir Hassan and Tal Karama. Considering the huge needs of displaced people in Idlib province, our response remains limited. But it must continue—and increase. MSF’s ability to scale-up assistance and tackle a potential outbreak of COVID-19 will depend on a steady flow of essential relief items, medical supplies, and personal protective equipment reaching northwest Syria—and on our ability to send international staff to support our Syrian colleagues.
MSF currently has no presence in Turkey. To be able to scale-up the response, we ask all relevant Turkish authorities to facilitate the transit of essential supplies and international staff into northwest Syria.
Across northwest Syria, MSF mobile clinics provide general and maternal health care and treatment for noncommunicable diseases. They distribute relief items and support regular vaccination activities.
We also run a specialized burns unit in the region that provides surgery, skin grafts, dressings, physiotherapy, and psychological care. MSF supports primary and secondary health care in several hospitals and clinics throughout Idlib and Aleppo governorates and has co-management partnerships with three hospitals.
MSF’s medical programs across Raqqa, Hasakeh, and Aleppo governorates in northeast Syria continue. We also run activities in Al-Raqqa, Kobane/Ain Al-Arab, Al-Hol camp, Washokani camp, and Tal Kochar/Yaroubiyah, and support local health authorities with coronavirus outbreak preparedness.
To ensure our independence, MSF receives no government funding for our operations in Syria.