Qualitative accounts from Syrian health professionals regarding violations of the right to health, including the use of chemical weapons, in opposition-held Syria

Katherine Footer, Emily Clouse, DIana Rayes, Zaher Sahloul, Leonard S Rubenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives To explore the impact of the conflict, including the use of chemical weapons, in Syria on healthcare through the experiences of health providers using a public health and human rights lens. Design A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews conducted in-person or over Skype using a thematic analysis approach. Setting Interviews were conducted with Syrian health workers operating in opposition-held Syria in cooperation with a medical relief organisation in Gaziantep, Turkey. Participants We examined data from 29 semi-structured in-depth interviews with a sample of health professionals with current or recent work-related experience in opposition-controlled areas of Syria, including respondents to chemical attacks. Results Findings highlight the health worker experience of attacks on health infrastructure and services in Syria and consequences in terms of access and scarcity in availability of essential medicines and equipment. Quality of services is explored through physicians' accounts of the knock-on effect of shortages of equipment, supplies and personnel on the right to health and its ethical implications. Health workers themselves were found to be operating under extreme conditions, in particular responding to the most recent chemical attacks that occurred in 2017, with implications for their own health and mental well-being. Conclusions The study provides unique insight into the impact war has had on Syrian's right to health through the accounts of a sample of Syrian health professionals, with continuing relevance to the current conflict and professional issues facing health workers in conflict settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere021096
JournalBMJ Open
Volume8
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

Keywords

  • conflict
  • heath workers
  • right to health
  • Syria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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