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Communicable diseases in northwest Syria in the context of protracted armed conflict and earthquakes


Summary: The earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria in February, 2023, have caused further devastation in northwest Syria—an area already affected by protracted armed conflict, mass forced displacement, and inadequate health and humanitarian provision. The earthquake damaged infrastructure supporting water, sanitation, and hygiene, and health-care facilities. The disruptions to epidemiological surveillance and ongoing disease control measures resulting from the earthquake will accelerate and expand ongoing and new outbreaks of many communicable diseases including measles, cholera, tuberculosis, and leishmaniasis. Investing in existing early warning and response network activities in the area is essential. Antimicrobial resistance, which had already been an increasing concern in Syria before the earthquake, will also be exacerbated given the high number of traumatic injuries and breakdown of antimicrobial stewardship, and the collapse of infection prevention and control measures. Tackling communicable diseases in this setting requires multisectoral collaboration at the human–animal–environment nexus given the effect of the earthquakes on all these sectors. Without this collaboration, communicable disease outbreaks will further strain the already overburdened health system and cause further harm to the population.

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Journal Article
Tarnas MC
Almhawish N
Karah N
Sullivan R
Abbara A