doctors face mounting challenges trying revive health sector post isis manbij


Doctors face mounting challenges while trying to revive health sector in post-ISIS Manbij


An operations-room in the al-Hikma Hospital in Manbij. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Manbij – Disease has stalked the residents of Manbij city since the Islamic State (ISIS) was pushed out in August. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the local civilian council have been unable to stabilize the health sector, owing to severe in shortages of medicine and specialists.

Even if medicine was available the health sector would be hampered by a shortage of sterile beds. There were seven hospitals in Manbij before the war, but only four of them are serviceable.

Conducting a scorched earth campaign, ISIS demolished the National Hospital of Manbij with explosives. The extremist group also looted the critical medical equipment from the hospitals of Manbij city.

Local activists told ARA News that ISIS destroyed the equipment it couldn’t carry off. ISIS may have intended to slow down the SDF, by burdening them with a sick civilian population.

According to Doctor Muhammad Issa, the director of al-Barkal Hospital in Manbij, most of the medical centres in the city are inoperable. “The health sector is almost nonexistent in Manbij,” he said. “The available equipment is damaged. There is an urgent need for medical support to save hundreds of patients.”

The director of al-Hikma Hospital in Manbij, told ARA News that there are only a few doctors currently working. “After the liberation of Manbij, only 20-30 doctors remained here. Most of the doctors escaped during [the January 2014] ISIS invasion,” Dr Issa said. 

His colleague, Doctor Hammadi, told ARA News that since ISIS was pushed out of Manbij three months ago, they have encountered a lot of challenges while trying to revive the health sector.

“The lack of medicine and equipment has prevented us from providing the necessary treatment and healthcare to those in need. For instance, the artificial kidney device, which is necessary for treating patients suffering from kidney diseases, is impossible to find here,” Dr Hammadi said. “There was some equipment in the Basel Hospital but its all been destroyed.”

“We are obliged to transfer many patients to other areas for treatment. Imagine that some patients need urgent treatment but we’re obliged to send them to other places and they need hours to reach the nearest health-care centre,” he said. “Many of them don’t make it. Two days ago we transferred a patient to a hospital in Aleppo city, but she died while on her way.”

The shortage of medical supplies and staff has serious consequences. As pathogens do not acknowledge borders, the risk to human life extends beyond Manbij and even Syria.

The remaining medical staff have therefore made an impassioned plea to international aid organizations. Issa Hammadi, a gastroenterologist in Mabij, speaking for his colleagues, said: “We appeal to the international humanitarian organisations to provide assistance.”

Reporting by: Enwer Omar | Source: ARA News

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