Continued conflict in the Idlib region of northwestern Syria is creating a huge need for medical care. A massive explosion in Darkoush town in the afternoon of Thursday 31 October resulted in 12 casualties being rushed for urgent treatment to a nearby hospital supported by medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
A building near the centre of Darkoush town exploded, with the cause being as yet unclear. The force of the blast injured many people in the vicinity. Tragically, two victims arrived dead, having succumbed to their wounds during the journey to the hospital. Two of the patients had extremely severe wounds; a 12-year-old boy with a head injury and a 16-year-old girl with abdominal wounds, both of whom were stabilised and then referred to other hospitals with more technical medical capacity. Three patients had moderately severe head, foot or hand wounds that could be treated at the MSF-supported hospital, and five patients had lighter wounds to the head, leg, foot or hand, also treated at this hospital.
One of the senior doctors in the MSF-supported hospital explained the nervousness currently felt by his medical team: “After a big mass casualty influx we faced last week, and this new influx of wounded yesterday, the hospital has increased its readiness. We took a decision to stop receiving all non-emergency cases in the coming days. We are expecting to receive other casualties due to increased bombing in the area. Turning away patients is never an easy decision for any medic or hospital to take… But we feel it is now necessary for our medical teams to be on permanent stand-by for urgent life-saving surgery.”
MSF-supported hospitals in Idlib have responded to two mass casualty events in the space of a week, and it is clear that the need for life-saving medical care is as high as ever in this protracted and violent war. “MSF calls on all warring parties in Syria to ensure the protection of civilians, including health workers and their patients,” said Duccio Staderini, MSF Head of Mission for Syria response operations.
Across northwest Syria, MSF teams provide maternal healthcare, general healthcare and treatment for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through mobile clinics. They distribute relief items and improve water and sanitation systems. They also support regular vaccination activities in two vaccination centres and one hospital and through mobile clinic services.
Also in northwestern Syria, MSF runs a specialised burns unit that provides surgery, skin grafts, dressings, physiotherapy and psychological support. MSF provides distance-support provides support to primary and secondary healthcare in several hospitals and clinics around Idlib and Aleppo and has co-management partnerships with three hospitals, including the hospital that responded to Thursday’s mass casualty event.
MSF’s medical programs across Raqqa and Al Hasakeh governorates in northeastern Syria have been reduced or suspended since 15 October 2019 as we have been unable to ensure the safety of our teams due to the conflict in the region.