Options for future health policies in Syria


The sharp deterioration in health care for Syrians is of great importance both in Syria and in refugee host countries. The humanitarian crisis that has overwhelmed the country since 2011 has seen more than 2 million Syrians flee to neighbouring states and more than 6 million migrate within Syria in search of a safe refuge. Prior to the conflict, Syria was considered a transitional state in terms of health achievement in recent decades, with significant improvements in life expectancy and child mortality rates. The conflict, however, has not only caused many direct health problems, but also disrupted health systems that are essential for the nation’s future, with childhood diseases such as polio resurfacing. A number of hospitals have been turned into refugee shelters but damage to basic infrastructure, recurrent power cuts and the targeting of health care workers has greatly reduced the availability of basic health care. In such a crisis situation, the necessity for appropriate health policies is essential. The concept of health is too often taken to refer merely to health services, medicines and equipment rather than a broader issue in which the social, economic, political and cultural conditions are involved. While most political studies focus on the security and political dimensions of the coming period, there are few that consider the planning of the population’s healthcare. This essential paper outlines the ideas for a renewed focus, even during this time of crisis, on planning of health policies that respond to Syria’s current challenges and to its future needs, addressing the need for regional reorganization, improved cooperative planning with international organizations and laying out options for future health policies.

The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.