Please also visit http://sich.ghef.org for more information about the Coalition.
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The goal of Syrian International Coalition for Health (SICH) is to strengthen health-related ministries and organizations through a process of coalition building.
Improve coordination and communications among different Syrian medical organizations and provide healthcare leadership and strategic planning at the country level.
Statement of Commitment
No matter what the political affiliations or economic interests of participants in this coalition, those affiliations or interests will not be paramount in planning or in execution of the coalition's goals. All members of the coalition eschew politics and economics as primary motivations.
Proposed Coalition Members
- Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
- Syrian American Medical Association (SAMA)
- Middle East Critical Care Assembly (MCCA)
- Syrian British Medical Society (SBMS)
- Syrian American Dentist Association (SADA)
- Syrian Medical Association (SMA)
- Hosted by Global Health Equity Foundation (GHEF)
- Others, to be confirmed
Healthcare in a Time of Crisis
Since the start of the internal conflict in Syria, the United Nations reports that the number of displaced persons, both internally and externally, is as high as 230,000. Coordinated efforts to provide healthcare services for these displaced people are necessary in order to mitigate negative outcomes. In the post crisis phase, there will be an urgent need for a development process designed to examine and assess the health situation in the country. Using a holistic approach, one that encompasses the health sector, the determinants of health, and upstream national policies, SICH will prepare for and assist in implementing comprehensive healthcare reform.
The Coalition's Approach
All approaches are peaceful, secular and non-profit.
Coordination and Communication
- Provide a centralized communication platform that is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland
- Provide centralized health information data banks
- Increase awareness through media presence and the development of networks that reach key people, decision makers, organizations and leaders
- Promote education through seminars, courses, symposia and conference
- Provide assistance for individuals and grassroots organizations to develop platforms for advocacy
Data Collection and Analysis
- Conduct an on-site assessment of healthcare services provided to refugees and to internally displaced people
- Gather information provided by different sources to assess and quantify needs for people affected by crisis
- Identify gaps and conduct gap analysis
Strategic Healthcare Planning
- Provide infrastructural advice and support to the Syrian Ministry of Health, as well as to health-related governmental and nongovernmental organizations and institutions
- Develop an integrative and comprehensive health service plan at the country level
- Lay the foundation for reaching long term healthcare goals
- Strengthen the health information system and coordinate health education programs
- Publish a Strategic Plan paper (white paper) that describes the current situation and challenges. This paper articulates strategies for healthcare delivery during the crisis and for improvement strategies afterwards. The paper is used for education and as a tool to guide consultation. It is also a guide for crafting new legislation.
With the notable exception of the present crisis, health indicators have improved in the Syrian Arab Republic over the past three decades. Life expectancy at birth increased from 56 years in 1970 to 73.1 years in 2009. Infant mortality dropped from 132 per 1000 live births in 1970 to 17.9 per 1000 in 2009. Under-five mortality dropped significantly from 164 to 21.4 per 1000 live births. Maternal mortality fell from 482 per 100 000 live births in 1970 to 52 in 2009. The Syrian Arab Republic is in epidemiological transition from communicable to non-communicable diseases with 77% of mortalities caused by non-communicable diseases. National statistics indicate that the mean number of people served by a single medical doctor was 677 in 2006. Access to health services increased since the 1980s, and rural populations achieved better equity, according to data and analysis provided by the Syrian Government.
Despite improvements in the health system, a number of challenges would have needed to be addressed even without the current crisis.
- Overall inequity
- Lack of transparency
- Inadequate utilization of capacity
- Inadequate coordination between providers of health services
- Uneven distribution of human resources
- Uneven distribution of medical services
- Uneven distribution of technology
- High turnover of skilled staff and leadership
- Inadequate number of qualified nurses and allied health professionals
- Unregulated private sector
- Lack of standardized care and of quality assurance
- Mortality rates among critically ill patients
Tayeb Alhafez, MD, Founder & President, Global Health Equity Foundation
Kherallah M, Alhafez T, Sahloul Z, Eddin KD, Jamil G. Health care in Syria before and during the crisis. Avicenna J Med 2012; 2:51-3.
Syrian International Coalition for Health
Contact: Mazen Kherallah, MD, FCCP • firstname.lastname@example.org • +966554949041
Geneva, SWITZERLAND - Nearly seventeen months into the current conflict in Syria, violence continues to intensify across the nation of roughly 23 million. As a result, thousands have been killed and even more displaced, both internally and externally. The ongoing crisis has placed a massive burden on Syria's healthcare system and on its ability to adequately address the needs of its citizens. Collaborative efforts and immediate action are needed.
In response to this need for immediate assistance and comprehensive future planning, a consortium of Syrian medical organizations, along with expert physicians and academics, constituted the Syrian International Coalition for Health (SICH). Formed in March 2012, and hosted by Global Health Equity Foundation (GHEF), SICH's founding members include, among others, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), the Syrian British Medical Society (SBMS), and Middle East Critical Care Assembly (MCCA). The Coalition's administrative headquarters is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
SICH's mission is to strengthen health-related ministries and organizations through a process of coalition building. The Coalition believes that this goal can be achieved by improving coordination and communication among different Syrian medical organizations, and by providing healthcare leadership and strategic planning at the country level. SICH maintains a nonpartisan approach to its concerted activities and efforts.
Four main principles guide SICH's mission: quality, equity, sustainability, and transparency.
On 12 June 2012, SICH was formally introduced at GHEF's Consensus Building Forum entitled New Methodology - Analysing Health Equity Gaps, in London, England. SICH also hosted a Consensus Building Forum at SAMS's 12th Annual International Convention in Istanbul, Turkey, on 3 July 2012, where a plan of action and potential projects were discussed.
Following these fruitful meetings, SICH refined its structure and assigned strategic operational duties and responsibilities. The structure includes a General Assembly, Advisory Board and Executive Committee, with the latter body comprised of branches covering matters such as funding, external and internal affairs, networking and project supervision.
Currently, SICH is preparing to submit its first publication, Syria: Health Crisis, to peer-reviewed medical journals. This paper has been translated into Arabic and will also be circulated among wider audiences of the Middle East. Syria: Health Crisis outlines the negative effects of violence on Syria's healthcare system while also recognizing achievements that were made prior to the recent conflict. This short piece provides a backdrop for future studies, including SICH's plan for Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA), prevalence of communicable diseases, and symptom load and risk factors of mental health problems (including post-traumatic stress disorder among Syrian refugees).
Given the volatile nature of the conflict in Syria, SICH is cognizant of the need to remain aware of developments on the ground in order to provide the most accurate assessments of conditions faced by displaced and refugee Syrians. The Coalition continues to work on formulating projects that aim to fulfill this imperative, and on 31 October 2012 will present preliminary findings in Geneva as part of GHEF's one-day symposium Global Health Equity in Times of Crisis.
GHEF advocates on behalf of people who lack access to health education, to prevention services and to healthcare. GHEF is a philanthropic organization that conducts research, and integrates that research into advocacy and capacity building projects.
Global Health Equity Foundation engages in three core strategies - Research, Advocacy and Capacity Building. Read more.