Destroyed buildings, including Dar Al-Shifa hospital, are seen on Sa’ar street in Aleppo, Syria. Photo: AFP/GETTY
December 19, 2014 by Richard Spencer
A million people have been wounded in the Syrian conflict, according to a new estimate by the World Health Organisation.
"In Syria, they have a million people injured as a direct result of the war,” the WHO representative, Elizabeth Hoff said.
“You can see it in the country when you travel around. You see a lot of amputees. This is the biggest problem.”
The WHO, the United Nations health arm, has been delivering medical help to Syria from the start of the conflict, but has to operate through Damascus.
Ms Hoff, in an interview with Reuters, said the health system had collapsed, meaning that disease was spreading rapidly through a country already plagued by violence.
Monitoring groups outside the country say the number of people known to have been killed by the war has now passed 200,000, with some saying the total figure is likely to be much higher.
Given the normal ratio in war of deaths to injuries, the estimate of a million casualties is not surprising. But the figure, out of a total population of about 22 million, shows the reach of the war throughout the country.
In addition, between 3-4 million Syrians have fled the country, with many living in increasingly squalid refugee camps in neighbouring countries, or begging on the streets of the region’s cities.
Ms Hoff said that typhoid and hepatitis were spreading through the population as vaccination rates plunged from 90 per cent before the war to 52 per cent now.
Many public hospitals have also been destroyed, while water supplies are increasingly contaminated.
Ms Hoff said there had been 6,500 cases of typhoid in 2014, and 4,200 cases of measles.
Doctors in opposition areas have also told reporters, including The Telegraph’s, that tuberculosis is also advancing.
There are also widespread cases of skin diseases spread by flies that are attracted by the rubble and rubbish of war, including leishmaniasis and myiasis, also known as screw-worm.
Ms Hoff said delivering to supplies to rebel-held areas - where many health services have been bombed by the regime’s air force - had been hindered by the government’s refusal to give permission.
"What has been a problem is the regularity of supply," she said. "The approvals are sporadic."
She said that 13.5 million individual treatments had been supplied during 2014, but that “the needs are not possible to believe”.