In January 2014, SKT Welfare made a strategic decision to relocate its hospital, located in an industrial part of Aleppo, due to security concerns. Fortunately, this move pre-empted a direct attack on the building in which the hospital was based; thankfully none of the staff and workers were injured, and all equipment and consumables were successfully transported out of the area prior to the assault.
Based on the escalating situation in the area, and the fact that most of the local population the hospital was serving was to be evacuated, the move was inevitable. As reported by the media throughout this crisis and confirmed by Syrian doctors who have fled the country, hospitals and medical staff are premium targets in this conflict. Whilst this is an ugly reality expected by those selfless humanitarians working in such hostile conflict zones, at the same time the charity has to take all necessary precautions to avoid imperiling our staff and patients.
The Al-Huda Hospital has been relocated to a more secure site; an area which has multiple expansive population centres to be served. We estimate there are 110 villages and 13 towns within its catchment area. The estimated population coverage is just under 1 million people.
Specialising in Trauma, Orthopedics and Neurosurgery, the hospital is fully equipped to perform in other areas of expertise including General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Thoracic and Vascular Surgery.
The hospital comprises an Emergency Room which can deal with minor surgical procedures. There is a 6-bed ICU unit, a fully equipped operating theatre, an X-Ray and ultrasound machine, sterilisation room, pharmacy, laboratory and wash room. A dedicated section of the hospital is a clinic which caters for less critical patients and minor injuries.
The hospital will employ 10 specialised doctors, 5 internal medicine doctors, 3 nurses for anesthesia, 3 radiographers, 4 assistant surgeons, 4 nurses for the laboratory, 3 pharmacists, one nurse dedicated to sterilisation and 10 general nurses. In total, medical staff at the hospital are currently numbered at 43.
There are also around 30 non-medical employees dedicated to management, cleaning, operations and security. This includes the drivers of ambulances that we recently delivered to the hospital as part of SKT Welfare’s May 2014 Aid Convoy.
Under the directorship of a neurosurgeon with over 30 years experience, SKT Welfare’s hospital is a life-saving service for the area. This is at a time when medical care and the availability of treatment to Syrians is woefully insufficient. Our local surveys from the surrounding towns and villages, reveal a shocking variety of health conditions and chronic illnesses that are left untreated. In many cases, people have to forsake healthcare needs because of the opportunity costs involved, i.e. paying for food and rent.
The shortfall in available medics and treatment is in addition to the desperate need for actual hospitals that can cater for life-threatening emergencies, as many such existing medical facilities have been demolished, often as a result of being drawn into the conflict through crossfire, or from direct ground and aerial assaults. This is without mentioning the fact that many of those who have sustained injuries often fear seeking treatment, particularly in medical facilities, as they know such places are regularly targeted.
Al-Huda hospital stands as a beacon in this regard, and is making a considerable and significant difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. From SKT Welfare’s point of view, it is a massive undertaking with significant costs attached. An undertaking which cannot continue to operate without your sustained support and donations. We need your help to address the ongoing healthcare needs of the surrounding areas.