WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today visited north-west Syria following the devastating earthquakes that hit northern Syria and southern Türkiye on 6 February 2023. Dr Tedros is the first UN principal to enter north-west Syria since the beginning of the conflict, 12 years ago.
Dr Tedros met with the partners WHO works with in north-west Syria to deliver essential health care, including specialised orthopaedic care and paediatric care.
Also today, WHO distributed additional life-saving medicines, supplies and equipment to three hospitals in north-west Syria. These are sufficient for over 280,000 treatments, including for the management of trauma, diabetes, and pneumonia, as well as vitally needed anaesthesia drugs and surgical supplies. WHO has sent over 140 tonnes of supplies to north-west Syria, from across the border in Türkiye and across lines within Syria. In the first hours after the earthquakes, WHO distributed 183 metric tonnes of supplies prepositioned inside north-west Syria from warehouses in Azaz and Idlib to more than 200 health facilities.
Dr Tedros spoke at a media briefing following the visits, saying:
“WHO is playing our role in supporting the Syrian people, who have responded incredibly with the little that they have. WHO has been delivering essential medicines, supplies, and equipment for years, as well as on the day the earthquakes struck. And we will do more. But the people of northwest Syria need the assistance of the international community to recover and rebuild. Even before the earthquake, more than 90% of the Syrian people were living below the poverty line…I call on the international community – governments, philanthropies and individuals – to dig deep to lift up those who are enduring unimaginable loss, poverty and deprivation. At the same time, I call on the leaders of both sides of the Syrian conflict to use the shared suffering of this crisis as a platform for peace.”
On 28 February, Dr Tedros met with Turkiye’s Minister of Health, health workers and others affected by the earthquake. Earlier in the month, he visited Aleppo, Syria to meet with affected people and officials.