Austrian Contribution to WHO Syria Program 2020 - focus Covid-19
The overall goal of the WHO Whole of Syria COVID-19 preparedness and response plan is to reduce morbidity and mortality resulting from COVID-19 among the population of Syria by scaling up country preparedness and response operations. Under the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) 2020 for the Whole of Syria, WHO’s response aims to sustain and expand essential, quality health services at community, primary, secondary and tertiary care levels. WHO also aims to ensure availability and accessibility of routine, emergency, and specialized health services, which is essential to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable groups, including to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), from a Whole of Syria perspective.
Following results are expected under the WHO Whole of Syria COVID-19 Response Plan:
Pillar 1: Enhanced country-level coordination;
Pillar 2: Enhanced risk communication and community engagement;
Pillar 3: Strengthened surveillance, rapid response teams and case investigation;
Pillar 4: Enhanced preparedness and management of point of entries;
Pillar 5: Enhanced national laboratories;
Pillar 6: Strengthened infection prevention and control;
Pillar 7: Improved case management;
Pillar 8: Enhanced operational support and logistics
WHO’s response under HRP 2020 includes the following expected results across Syria, including in north west Syria:
• Strengthened health information systems for evidence-based emergency response and resilience
• Improved environmental health in area of returnees and IDPs
• Strengthened prevention and early detection of malnutrition in children under ?ve and referral for treatment of complicated cases of SAM
• Strengthened mental health and psychosocial support services across Syria
• Strengthened EPI program in Syria
• Strengthened Trauma Care/Mass Casualty Management and Physical Rehabilitation
• Enhanced preparedness and response capacity for prevention and control of potential epidemic of high thread pathogens in Syria
• Strengthened secondary healthcare services for the affected communities in Syria
• Improved access to Primary Health Care (PHC) service
In line with WHO’s component of the 2020 HRP for the Whole of Syria and the Whole of Syria COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan Austria’s contribution to WHO of EUR 828,600 could reach up to 340,354 internally displaced persons and vulnerable host communities with health services. WHO works with some 50 health sector partners (through WHO Damascus hub) and mostly through civil society organization (through WHO Gaziantep Hub ) including Hand In Hand For Aid and Humanitarian, PAC- Turkey and the Syrian Expatriates Medical Association.
The project activities will be implemented in North-east Syria and South-west Syria (through Damascus Hub); and north-west Syria (through Gaziantep Hub).
The Austrian funding could contribute to the following:
• Make available needed protection equipment to 49,679 healthcare workers in public hospitals, 31,252 of whom are frontline healthcare workers within Syria.
• Secure proper case management to an expected 1,165 hospitalized persons in north west Syria.
• Ensure appropriate contact tracing, lab testing and proper quarantine conditions in designated isolation facilities to 23,420 persons within Syria.
• Support to a total of 350 IDP settlements and camps with internet connection for remote awareness raising activities on COVID-19 in North West Syria.
• Establish an information hotline in 60 health facilities in North West Syria.
More than eight years of crisis have heavily disrupted the health system in Syria impacting access to services and leaving millions of people living below emergency standards for health care. Chronic shortages of health care workers, particularly in north-east and north west Syria, prevent full functionalization of health facilities and essential services. Shortfalls of essential medicines are key barriers to health access, particularly for non-communicable diseases which are estimated to account for 45 per cent of all deaths. COVID-19 has put additional stress on the health system and health actors to coordinate, prepare and respond to the outbreak. Irrespective of modality, health actors require rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to ensure essential, life-saving health care for people in need. As of 1 May 2020, a total of 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 including 3 deaths have been reported in Syria. Based on the current epidemiological situation in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, where there is a rapid spread of cases in neighbouring countries, including those that border Syria, the risk to Syria is considered very high. Additional risk factors for Syria include high levels of population movement, including religious tourism from Iran; large numbers of vulnerable people, including 6.1 million IDPs (including 3.9 million IDPs within Syria and 71,000 IDPs in IDPs sites in north-east) and 438,000 Palestine refugees; and an extremely fragile public health system with a limited-moderate response capacity.