On March 25, 2015, Ruwaidahaa Summaq left her daughter, Kawthar, sleeping in their home, to hang up her laundry when she heard the familiar sound of warplanes. Upon hearing them, Ruwaidahaa’s sons ran out of the house to scan the skies to see where the planes were heading. In a split-second, their entire lives changed: the warplanes, which so frequently target civilian homes, targeted theirs. The bombing caused the gas canisters in the house to explode and catch fire, with Kawthar stuck inside. Ruwaidahaa ran inside to rescue Kawthar. Kawthar, luckily, survived the bombing. She and her mother were transported to Turkey, where they were treated in a few hospitals. 70% of Kawthar’s body has suffered from second- and third-degree burns, including most of her face.
Thankfully, Kawthar has been accepted to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston, TX where she will be receiving medical care and treatment, including plastic surgery and psychological rehabilitation. Her treatment will last 4-6 months.
UOSSM USA Updates
In December 2015, CEO Dr. Khaula Sawah was invited to attend UOSSM-Canada’s Annual Meeting in Toronto. There, she provided updates on UOSSM-International’s major programs and initiatives, which she saw on her trip to Turkey earlier in the year. Dr Hani Mowafi, a physician and professor at Yale University, presented his research on the data collection done at UOSSM’s hospitals inside Syria; over 200,000 cases have been documented to this date. have so far been documented. The Turkish Consul General in Toronto, Mr. Erdeniz Sen was also in attendance.
CEO Dr. Khaula Sawah will be traveling to Turkey in February to meet with the international board and staff, for the international organization’s Board-Staff Strategic Retreat. She will also travel to London, representing UOSSM at the Supporting Syria 2016 Conference.
UOSSM International Updates
UOSSM USA welcomes the establishment of UOSSM Holland. The founding meeting featured Dr. Anas Chaker and Wassem Taha, two of the pioneers of UOSSM. The meeting took place January 31, 2016. UOSSM USA is excited to work with the new and dedicated members.
For more information, click here.
Updates from the Ground
December 2015 and January 2016 were extremely productive months for UOSSM International, with a number of new centers and training initiatives launched in Turkey and in Syria.
On December 28, 2015, a new Mental Health Center was opened in Gaziantep. The center will provide services free of charge to refugees. As per UOSSM’s guidelines, the center will also provide training and psychosocial support to the surrounding areas.
A collaboration between UOSSM and MDM made the launch of a new Primary Health Care Center in Reyhanli possible. This much needed Center will provide psychosocial support, as well as gynecological, pediatric, and dental care free of charge to refugees. The new Center also features an onsite lab.
A new nursing and midwife training institute in Deraa was opened in order to increase the number of medical professionals and health services in southern region of Syria. By the end of 2016, UOSSM hopes to train 105 students.
This initiative is supported by UOSSM France.
The Baba al Hawa Medical Training Division held several workshops. Some of the highlights are:
- Nurse training courses
- Leishmaniasis management course, to help doctors and nurses who focus on the treatment of this disease. Over 50 nurses and doctors attended.
- A 28-day preventative care course for over 105 medical professionals
Attacks on Healthcare in Syria
There was an increased number of attacks on health care in Syria in the end of 2015; several UOSSM supported hospitals in Northern Syria were hit by warplanes. The hospitals hit provided services to a number of different populations, including pregnant women and children. The Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Azzaz, Aleppo, which previously provided deliveries to over 260 patients a month, was the most severely damaged. Over 10 people were killed in this attack as well.
The attacks on hospitals in Northern Syria follow a string of reported attacks on medical facilities including a December 21 airstrike on the Dayr Asafeer Hospital in Eastern Ghouta, and the December 24 attack on the UOSSM Zafarani Primary Health Center in Homs suburbs. The Zafarani Primary Health Center is one of many health facilities supported by UOSSM inside Syria. The damaged areas have been repaired and the hospitals reopened after a period of being closed.