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WHO Director Visits UOSSM Hospital in for Earthquake Relief Assessment in Northwest Syria

On March 1, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited northwest Syria following the devastating earthquakes that hit northern Syria and southern Turkey on February 6, to evaluate the situation assessing area hospitals including UOSSM’s Aqrabat Hospital. In addition, the Director met with UOSSM’s Country Director, Dr. Daher Zedan, to better understand current medical needs in northwest Syria, and to coordinate a future response plan. The WHO team also met with the Idlib Health Directorate and representatives of other humanitarian organizations on the ground as they discussed the difficulties the health sector faced  with the catastrophic earthquake, needs to support the medical sector, and planning a coordinated response in the near future.

Dr Tedros said at a media briefing following the visits,”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.”

Yasmeen is 4 years old. She was severely injured in the earthquake in the Jandaris area in northwest Syria. She was rushed to Aqrabat Hospital where she received immediate emergency care for her injuries. She had to have emergency surgery to repair her broken metatarsal bones in the foot by inserting rods. Doctors also investigated the dead tissue that resulted from the crush injuries. The surgery was a success.

Yasmeen has been in the hospital receiving the medical care she needs to make a full recovery. Many of the staff love her sweet personality and she trusted them to care for her and change her bandages. Her health continues to improve. She especially developed a connection with one of her caregivers Abd Al Jawad, who helped her with her pain both physically and emotionally.

We thank all our staff who have been working tirelessly to help save lives, minutes after the earthquake, despite being in terrible situations themselves including the loss of loved ones, injuries, and becoming displaced.
Together, we will continue to save lives and build hope.

You can continue to support our earthquake relief efforts by donating here.

UOSSM’s response to the earthquake in northwest Syria was immediate, due to the existing framework and operations in since 2012. With over 1800 staff on the ground, our team has been working tirelessly, despite all the pain and heartache, loss and displacement, being victims themselves, to alleviate the suffering and help heal and save lives of earthquake victims.
Between Feb 6-Feb 27, UOSSM has provided 50,299 consultations to 34,348 patients, provided 878 major surgeries and 184 minor surgeries, along with other vital services such as diagnostics, dialysis, and blood unit distribution through our 30 hospitals and health facilities, 10 mobile clinics, and 62 ambulances. You can click here to support our earthquake relief efforts and help save lives!
The need is so great, the destruction and devastation is overwhelming, but together, we can continue to save lives and build hope.
Our co-founder, Dr. Monzer H Yazji, went to Turkey and Syria on a medical mission to help support staff and victims both physically and mentally.
On the first two days he stayed in Turkey, meeting with Turkish government officials to see how UOSSM could support staff on the ground there, and how to coordinate response efforts in Syria. He also discussed with officials deploying a team from UOSSM doctors around the world to work in the field hospital created by the Emirates government. In addition he was on the ground in Hatay, to see where he could support local teams on the ground there.

Dr. Yazji then went to Syria for two days on a medical mission to witness the damage, assess UOSSM’s response and needs,  evaluate hospitals and medical facilities, and provide medical care, and victim support  in northwest Syria.

On his first day there, Dr. Yazji, along with a team from UOSSM, including Country Director, Dr. Daher Zedan, visited the hardest hit area of Jandaris. The team visited the Afreen hospital, the local health council of Jandaris, and the mobile clinic operating in the emergency shelter area. In the mobile clinic Dr. Yazji provided medical care to earthquake victims who were newly displaced. Towards the end of the first day, Dr. Yazji and the UOSSM team visited UOSSM’s Aqrabat Hospital, where they assessed the hospital to ensure everything is running smoothly, evaluated needs, and met and spent time with patients who were victims of the earthquake.

On the second day, Dr. Yazji and a team of UOSSM representatives visited with the director of the Idlib Health Directorate, Dr. Zuhair AlQarrat to discuss response and coordination efforts in the area. Next, the team visited UOSSM’s Diagnostic Lab, the UOSSM Dialysis Center, the Al Hikma Specialty Hospital, and the Andalusia Surgical Hospital to evaluate the facilities, know needs and shortages, and meet with and provide support to doctors and staff.
Dr. Yazji participated in some surgeries of earthquake victims to share his knowledge and expertise.

You can watch a video here of one of the surgeries Dr. Yazji participated in.

Edinburg, TX – Just two weeks after the catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria, two more earthquakes with 6.4 and 5.8 magnitudes just shook the region, terrifying people once again. UOSSM initial reports show at least 94 injuries and several collapsed buildings in northwest Syria. Most of the injuries are a result of people panicking, many are even jumping from buildings. Those numbers could continue to rise as the earthquake hit at night. Initial reports in Turkey indicate at least three deaths and over 123 injuries, those numbers are expected to rise as well. The region has been experiencing hundreds of aftershocks since the initial earthquake. UOSSM staff are already receiving and treating victims.

The earthquake on February 6 has killed at least 46,000 people, injured tens of thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands, and caused the collapse of thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria. Many more buildings could collapse after these earthquakes as a result of weakened foundations and structures from the previous earthquake and aftershocks.

UOSSM has been on the ground since the earthquake hit providing emergency medical care to the victims through its hospitals and healthcare facilities, medical and mental health care services through its mobile clinics integrated with mental health, and transported and referred victims as needed in the hardest hit areas.

In addition, through our local partners on the ground, we have helped with rescue and recovery, provided shelter, food, clothes, and non-food items.

The state on the ground is in dire need of immediate and increased global, humanitarian support to allow local humanitarian actors to deliver essential assistance. Currently, three crossing points are authorized for humanitarian aid between Turkey and Syria. Collective solidarity is needed to ensure an immediate and effective response in the upcoming weeks and months ahead.

Dr. Anas Alkassem, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of UOSSM Canada was already on the ground in a medical mission in Syria. As he was visiting Aqrabat Hospital the earthquakes hit saying in a live video, “We are at the Aqrabat hospital at the moment, we felt the terrible shock, a quake that brought fear to all patients and staff. All staff and patients are safe, yet we had to evacuate patients including children to the outdoor space. We hope there will be no injuries and casualties, yet we are waiting, prepared, and ready to receive cases.” You can watch his video here.

Dr. Khaula Sawah, President of UOSSM USA said, “Our hearts go out to the people of Syria and Turkey who have been living in a constant state of fear, panic, and heartbreak since February 6. We call on the international community to remember that these people have been affected both physically and mentally and will need support from the world as they try to heal and rebuild. We pray for the safety of everyone in both countries, this is so tragic.”

Destruction from first earthquake on February 6 in northwest Syria.
Destruction from first earthquake on February 6 in northwest Syria.
UOSSM Mobile clinics providing immediate medical services to earthquake victims.
UOSSM doctors operating on earthquake victims.
UOSSM doctors operating on earthquake victims.

The devastating earthquake that caused catastrophic damage in Turkey and Syria on February 6, has killed over 42,000 people, tens of thousands have been injured, and thousands upon thousands have been displaced. Sadly, the death toll continues to rise. There is little hope to find any more survivors, but every day, we do hear of miracle stories of survival.

In northwest Syria,  our hospitals and medical facilities have been overwhelmed with the massive influx of patients in need of urgent medical care. Many of those victims are suffering from Crush Syndrome after being pulled from under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Years of war and bombings, COVID-19, and the Cholera outbreak, already has pushed the medical sector to its limits. The earthquake added a humanitarian crisis on top of the already existing humanitarian crisis. The situation is dire. There is a shortage of doctors and staff, medical equipment, medical consumables and medicines.

We immediately deployed additional mobile clinics, integrated with medical and mental health care to victims of the hardest hit areas of destruction, like Jandaris. Currently, we are operating 10 mobile clinics, 30 health facilities, and 62 ambulances. Between February 6 and February 15, we provided 15,273 patients with 19,845 consultations, provided 528 major surgeries, and 128 minor surgeries.

In addition, through our local partners Hathi Hayati, on the ground, we have helped with rescue and recovery, provided shelter, food, clothes, food and non food items.



As the death toll and numbers of injured continue to rise from the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey and Syria, UOSSM took immediate initiative to launch mobile health and mental health clinics in the hardest hit areas in the region. Watch the video here to hear from Dr. Daher Zedan, UOSSM’s Country Director, to learn more about the current situation on the ground and UOSSM’s response.

UOSSM staff speak about the earthquake, their experience, and the emergency needs on the ground in Syria. Many of UOSSM’s staff on the ground were affected in Syria and Turkey. Several staff lost family members and loved ones, many became injured in the earthquake, and many also became displaced in Syria and Turkey. Watch the video below.

UOSSM began an immediate response to the devastating earthquake by launching mobile clinics in the hardest hit areas, including this mobile clinic in Salqeen.

The situation is dire, the numbers of casualties are catastrophic, and the need is overwhelming.
Click here to watch the video.


UOSSM’s mobile psychiatric/mental health clinic visited the Atareb makeshift camp in Syria on February 8. Life in camps for internally displaced persons is harsh as it is, but the two earthquakes have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis.
Northwestern Syria has already faced a decade of bombings and shellings, one of the biggest humanitarian crises ever. Dr. Ghanem Tayara, president of UOSSM International, said, “if [the earthquake] doesn’t appeal for immediate humanitarian solidarity and make us join forces to continue offering relief to the most vulnerable population, then what should?”
UOSSM began its immediate response to the catastrophic earthquake with medical, and emergency care, and relief, along with providing shelter for those affected. On the first day of the earthquake, Aqrabat Hospital treated 614 emergency cases, provided 113 surgeries, and admitted 151 patients into the hospital.
Al Andalus Hospital also treated 51 patients.



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