War demands different skills

No matter how good a medic you are, nothing prepares you for working on the frontline of a war zone. Syrian doctors are being confronted with blast injuries, gunshot wounds, and the effects of torture and chemical attacks. Diseases are spreading rapidly, and there are severe cases of malnutrition. We’re the first agency to bring together experts in the field from Europe with frontline hospital staff working inside Syria.

Doctors in Syria need help

[doctors in Syria are treating] blast injuries, trauma from shelling, sniper wounds, and blunt trauma from collapsed buildings — all of which require urgent surgical care… Additionally, the doctors have treated injuries consistent with torture and they have recently found themselves questioning the exact nature of the bombs that are being used as they seem to be causing infections that are not the norm…The Lancet
      Frontline medics in Syria are under severe pressure. 57% of all hospitals have been damaged or destroyed, and more than 65% of healthworkers have fled the country (as of June 2013). Most medical staff are working in under-resourced facilities, often outside their own area of expertise. In spite of their best efforts, this has inevitably had a direct negative impact on patient outcomes. But we’re doing our best to support and train them, and your help could make a huge difference.

We’re training doctors on the ground

Hand in Hand for Syria sends its own medical specialists into Syria (such as doctors, anaesthetists, spinal surgeons and obstetricians) to assess the quality of our clinical services and provide hands-on support to local medics, and our medical lead spends the majority of his time there. However, it’s vital to ensure that local medics also get the skills they need to work more effectively in a conflict zone — and this is one way that we can have a major impact in Syria.

Working with our partner INGOs, we begin by finding some of the world’s experts in war surgery from the UK and Europe. We then invite them to Turkey, where they meet up with the Syrian doctors, nurses and paramedics we’ve managed to bring out of the country. These experts, together with our own medical lead, spend 3 days transferring vital skills, including the latest techniques in emergency trauma care and resuscitation, as well as how to handle the effects of chemical and biological warfare. We translate all training materials into Arabic, ready for the participants. On their return to Syria, these doctors can perform more effectively — but most importantly, they can also train their colleagues.

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