Doctors of the World advocates for sustainable health recovery in war-torn Syria - Doctors of the World

Doctors of the World advocates for sustainable health recovery in war-torn Syria

In anticipation of the 8th Brussels Conference, Doctors of the World International Network emphasizes the critical importance of sustainable solutions to address the enduring humanitarian crisis in Syria, particularly in healthcare. As the crisis enters its 13th year, the burden on the healthcare system has never been more pronounced. There is an urgent need for adaptable and sustainable funding mechanisms to support the health infrastructure and ensure the provision of essential services and access to the right to health to the most vulnerable populations.


For over 13 years, Syria has been caught up in a protracted conflict exacerbated by outbreaks and natural disasters such as earthquakes, significantly amplifying the humanitarian needs. Currently, 16,7 million people rely on humanitarian assistance, with 7,2 million internally displaced. Despite this staggering need, funding remains insufficient, intensifying the crisis. Moreover, a permanent solution for UN cross-border humanitarian access to Northwest Syria has yet to be established, further hindering aid delivery to vulnerable populations. In light of these challenges, there is a pressing need for donors to reassess their approach and allocate funds that are commensurate with the scale and complexity of the crisis.

It is high time to prioritize sustainable humanitarian activities, particularly early recovery efforts, which go beyond immediate relief and lay the foundation for long-term resilience and sustainable health systems. Early recovery initiatives offer durable solutions that alleviate pressure on emergency aid and reduce dependency on humanitarian assistance.

Rather than addressing only immediate medical needs with short-term fixes, early recovery efforts prioritize repairing and rehabilition of medical facilities. This helps communities access healthcare more easily, making them less vulnerable to epidemics and health emergencies. It’s a more sustainable and cost-effective approach in the long term, without the need for expensive new construction projects.

Another major challenge facing Syria’s healthcare system is the shortage of qualified medical personnel due to the insufficiency to training accredited health workers and low salaries, making it hard to attract outside talent and to retain the current health personnel who work facing constant hardship. ¬†Humanitarian responses often offer short-term solutions that are not sustainable, requiring repeated efforts and additional costs. Investing in long-term capacity building training programs is imperative to address this shortage effectively.

Despite donor-political challenges, early recovery approaches are essential to ensuring the endurance and efficacy of interventions over time and deliver greater benefits by prioritizing resilience.


  • In light of these exigencies, Doctors of the World International Network calls upon donors to realign their strategies and invest in Early Recovery Programming, and support multi-year, multi-sector approaches, with adaptable funding options wherever possible. This plays a pivotal role in addressing the evolving needs of the population and ensuring sustainability.


  • Doctors of the World International Network encourages donor investment in capacity-building programs not only for health workers but also for other stakeholders responsible for managing the health system in Syria. This includes the accreditation of health personnel qualification centers and universities in the various regions of the country. Such initiatives are crucial for developing a sustainable healthcare workforce and infrastructure in Syria.


  • Doctors of the World International Network calls on all humanitarian actors, NGOs, the UN and the donors to support the implementation of a comprehensive early recovery strategy for Syria, remembering that a sustainable healthcare system is vital for the life, rights and dignity of civilian populations, and should be distinguished from political considerations.¬†