A group of 55 doctors and medical professionals, including three Nobel Prize winners, have warned that Syria's healthcare system is "at breaking point" because of attacks on hospitals, staff being attacked, imprisoned or fleeing the country, and humanitarian organisations being denied access to patients.
In an open letter to the Lancet, they say that large parts of Syria are completely cut off from any form of medical assistance. The signatories, who span five continents, cite figures suggesting 469 health workers are currently imprisoned and about 15,000 doctors have fled the country. In Syria's largest city, Aleppo, there are just 36 physicians, compared to 5,000 before the civil war began, they say.
We are appalled by the lack of access to healthcare for affected civilians, and by the deliberate targeting of medical facilities and personnel," the letter says. "It is our professional, ethical, and moral duty to provide treatment and care to anyone in need. When we cannot do so personally, we are obliged to speak out in support of those risking their lives to provide life-saving assistance......."