At a special meeting in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) has appealed international donor countries for $1.0 billion in additional funds to help provide life-saving health services to millions in need in conflict-ravaged Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic and South Sudan.
WHO said in a statement, "Raging conflict and beleaguered health services are threatening the health of tens of millions of people in the four countries. The funds would also help make available childhood vaccinations and treatments for non-communicable diseases like cancers, diabetes, heart and lung diseases to communities often forced to do without."
More than half of the requested funds is needed for Syria, which has been devastated by nearly four years of civil war that has killed more than 210,000 people and driven half the population from their homes. The health situation in Syria is pitiable where more than half of all hospitals are only partially functioning or completely out of service, and where local medicine production has plunged 70 percent, making it impossible to get hold of many life-saving treatments. The number of doctors and other health workers has dropped 45 percent since the conflict began in March 2011, and vaccination coverage has plunged from 90 percent to only 52 percent. Simultaneously, Syria is dealing with an average of 25,000 injuries each month and lacking surgical supplies.
Iraq, which has seen more than two million people displaced in the last year as the Islamic State jihadist group has grabbed swaths of territory, is also hosting more than 235,000 Syrian refugees. Lack of access to safe water and overcrowding is leading to an increase of infectious diseases in Iraq.
For South Sudan, which is wracked by fighting since an alleged attempted coup in December 2013, $90 million is needed to provide vital health services to some 3.35 million people.
The devastated health sector in the Central African Republic, which has seen nearly two years of sectarian unrest, will need $48 million to help some 1.47 million people.