WHO sends supplies to Syria to deal with cholera outbreak

A plane carrying medical supplies to combat the spread of deadly cholera in war-torn Syria landed in the capital Damascus on Monday, the World Health Organization said. another will follow.

Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO Regional Director, told the Associated Press during an interview during a visit to Damascus that Syrian health authorities are working with the international organization to contain the outbreak.

“It’s a threat to Syria, to the region, (to) its neighbors and to the whole world,” he said.

Al-Mandhari’s comments come days after health officials in Syria reported at least five deaths and around 200 cases in different provinces. This is the first outbreak since before the conflict began in March 2011.

The United Nations and the Syrian Ministry of Health say the origin of the outbreak is believed to be related to people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River and using contaminated water to irrigate crops, resulting in pollution. food.

Cases were reported in several provinces, including Aleppo in the north, Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, and Deir el-Zour along the border with Iraq.

Al-Mandhari said WHO is working to strengthen surveillance to identify cases and provide appropriate treatment for sick people, as well as trace infected people and those who have come into contact with them.

He said a plane supported by the WHO carrying about 30 tons of cargo to assist health authorities dealing with the crisis landed in Syria on Monday. Al-Mandhari said supplies would be evenly distributed according to demand, including in areas in the northwest and northeast of the rebels controlled by US-backed Kurdish fighters.

He said another plane was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday with a similar amount of cargo.

The outbreak comes at a time when Syria’s health sector has been badly damaged over the past 11 years in a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, injured more than 1 million and displaced half the country’s population. moved before the war.

Al-Mandhari said 55% of healthcare facilities are not functioning in Syria and about 30% of hospitals sometimes fail because of “the lack of electricity, which causes them to use generators, which is unsustainable”.

He added that many Syrian medical staff have left the country over the years, resulting in a shortage of staff to run various services.

“The health situation in Syria is really difficult. It was very challenging,” said Al-Mandhari.

Separately, Al-Mandhari said about 15% of the Syrian population has received a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or about 2.5 million people.

“It’s really low compared to our target of 40% by the end of June and 70% by the end of the year.” He said 13% of Syrian residents received two doses of the drug.

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