Syrian American Medical Society
Providing critical medical relief to conflict victims in Syria and beyond
Nearly half a million Syrians have been killed, over a million injured, and over 12 million - half the country's pre-conflict population – displaced, during the seven years of Syria’s civil war. During conflict, medical services are critical, however health facilities in Syria are being systematically targeted. In April 2017 alone, there were 25 attacks on medical facilities, equivalent to one attack every 29 hours. Furthermore, the 6.3 million Syrian refugees living in neighbouring countries still require general medical care, and many host countries lack the capacity to provide it.
Since the conflict broke out, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) has supported healthcare throughout Syria, sponsoring field hospitals and ambulances, training and paying the salaries of Syrian medical personnel, and sending lifesaving humanitarian aid and medical equipment to where it is needed most. They also support Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and beyond by providing critical psychosocial support, specialised and general care and physical therapy. Their teams work in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. In November 2017, SAMS expanded its operations to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in response to the Rohingya crisis fleeing persecution and violence in Myanmar.
During SAMS medical mission to Jordan in July 2017, SAMS met many exceptional individuals who struggle with the lingering physical effects of the crisis in Syria. 12-year-old Hadeel lives in Al-Zaatari Refugee Camp.She was in her home in Syria when an airstrike caused the building to collapse and crumble on top of her. She survived four hours buried under the rubble, but had a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and was in a coma for nearly a month.SAMS volunteers Vickey Patel, a physical therapist and Dr Lydia Palmer, an occupational therapist, worked with her towards her recovery. Patel focused on her legs and brain stem, and Dr Palmer focused on her arms, hands, and brain stem.This is only the beginning of Hadeel's recovery; she will continue to receive physical therapy to continue improving her condition.
Healthcare workers in Syria work under the ever-present threat of violence. In 2016, one health professional was killed every two weeks. This has driven much of SAMS work in Syria literally underground into underground and cave hospitals purpose built or modified to mitigate the risks from attacks. Nevertheless they continue to take on this vital work, providing urgent and lifesaving care to victims of violence and continued general medical care to those in need, to the Syrians remaining in Syria and those who have been forced to flee.