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Policy Report: COVID-19 situation in Syria by the Syria Public Health Network

last modified May 05, 2020 11:25 AM

Policy Report on COVID-19 in Syria and possible policy responses


Aim: The aim of this policy report is to summarise key aspects relating to the COVID-19 response across Syria, documenting existing vulnerabilities and proposing locally appropriate policy recommendations. This report has been developed by the Syria Public Health Network in close collaboration with Syrians working on the response inside Syria. Information and statistics are correct at time of publishing. 


Summary: Syria's protracted conflict and humanitarian crisis has created ideal conditions for the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 among its population, particularly among the most vulnerable (internally displaced people (IDPs), and political detainees). The potential impact of COVID-19 in conflict and humanitarian settings has received little media and international policy attention. Over nine years of conflict and direct targeting of health facilities and health workers has weakened the health and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) infrastructures which has resulted in reduced ability to respond effectively to public health crises. The health system itself is fragmented and politicised with at least four health systems functioning within Syria's borders, each with their own leadership, governance and capacities. Each system has implemented different preparedness measures with little communication and coordination between them. Internationally recommended measures are not applicable in Syria given the degree of displacement and overcrowding, insufficient WASH and degraded health system capacities particularly in terms of the health workforce. Urgent upscaling of the health and humanitarian response across Syria, with funding and investment according to need and prevention rather than political affiliation, transparency by all actors and measures which are developed in collaboration with the local community are needed to avoid the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2.  


About us: The Syria Public Health Network was established in early 2015 in response to calls for an independent and critical assessment of the humanitarian and health response to the conflict from colleagues working in Syria and the wider region. This policy brief has been written by Syrian public health professionals in close collaboration with actors working across Syria. We would like to thank all contributors to this brief.


Download the full report here: Policy Report: Covid-19 situation in Syria  (pdf - 224kb)