Syria’s Healthcare System Latest War Casualty

Khaled, 5, is finally free of the excruciating pain he was suffering from a severely inflamed appendix, thanks to emergency surgery covered by assistance from IOCC. Khaled is among the nearly 1,000 displaced Syrian people who have received assistance from IOCC for medical needs increasingly out of reach in their war torn country. photo: IOCC/GOPA

Baltimore, MD (February 24, 2014) — Heavy fighting in Syria’s embattled Idlib province forced Khaled, 5, and his family to flee their home and settle in the town of As-Suwayda in southwest Syria. When Khaled’s severely inflamed appendix needed to be removed right away, his father, now displaced and penniless, worried about how he would pay for his son’s lifesaving surgery.

Isla, 11, was born with a chronic heart condition and also suffers from asthma which makes it difficult to breathe. Because of Isla’s weakened heart, a severe asthma attack could kill her. When the conflict in Syria began nearly three years ago, fighting near her neighborhood in Da’raa drove her mother, father and five siblings from their home in search of safety. They found shelter in an unfinished house. Both of Isla’s parents were also able to find steady jobs, but the expense of purchasing the drugs needed to treat her medical condition put a strain on the family’s extremely limited finances.

Syria’s civil war has severely weakened the country’s healthcare system, making it more difficult for thousands of displaced Syrians like Isla and Khaled to afford medical treatment needed to survive. The destruction of many of the country’s pharmaceutical factories has led to an alarming shortage of medicine, and UN reports estimate that two-thirds of Syria’s 88 public hospitals have been damaged or destroyed. Add to that the growing number of doctors and hospital workers who have had to flee to escape the violence of war, and access to healthcare inside Syria is rapidly falling out of the reach of those who need it most.

Isla, 11, is breathing easier with the help of lifesaving asthma drugs that her parents were able to purchase with assistance from IOCC. As Syria’s healthcare system faces collapse from the destructive forces of civil war, IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is responding to the growing health crisis by providing assistance to displaced Syrian people with medical needs. photo: IOCC/GOPA

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) in cooperation with its local partner, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) is responding to this growing health crisis by providing assistance to nearly 1,000 displaced Syrian people with medical needs. IOCC, an ACT Alliance member, is helping to cover their costs for essential medicine like Isla’s asthma drug, or minor surgical procedures like Khaled’s appendectomy.

In Syria, where more than six million people have been displaced by civil war, IOCC/GOPA is among very few humanitarian organizations working on the ground to provide shelter, medical assistance and education support, and delivering food, blankets, bedding and heating stoves to families living in some of the most volatile regions. Since 2012, IOCC has been responding to the urgent needs of nearly one million people displaced in Syria.


You can help the victims of poverty and conflicts around the world by making a financial gift to the International Emergency Response Fund which will provide immediate relief, as well as long-term support through the provision of emergency aid, recovery assistance and other support to help those in need. To make a gift, please visit or call toll free at 1-877-803-IOCC (4622), or mail a check or money order payable to IOCC, P.O. Box 17398, Baltimore, MD 21297.


IOCC is the official humanitarian aid agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has delivered $438 million in relief and development programs to families and communities in more than 50 countries. IOCC is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 140 churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy, and a member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.–based secular and faith-based organizations working to improve the lives of the world’s most poor and vulnerable populations.