Washington DC- Two malnourished infants died last weekend in eastern Ghouta. On Sunday, 34 day old Sahar died, and Obeida, less than one month old, died on Saturday.
The area of Al Ghouta has been under siege for over five years, leaving hundreds of thousands with little access to food, medications, and clean drinking water. Doctors in Al Ghouta warn that there has been a sharp spike in malnutrition cases, and if aid is not allowed to enter this week, Al Ghouta would be faced with a humanitarian disaster.
A few months ago, six-month-old Kinan died from blood cancer because the hospital did not have the five medications required to save his life.
The Rahma Cancer and Blood Center has documented several deaths of patients, mostly women and children, which died due to a lack of medications, malnutrition was a major contributing factor.
The elderly and vulnerable populations are also suffering. Those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, have no access to medications, leaving them at high risk with no relief in sight.
There are an estimated 367,000 civilians in the besieged areas that are under constant bombardment of airstrikes and bombings, with little to no access to treatment and medications. Most families are living at or below poverty levels, and are surviving on basic staples at prices that are exorbitant. Milk and formula for children and babies is too expensive for most, leaving many children weak and malnourished. New mothers are also finding difficulty nursing their babies due to their own medical problems from malnourishment.
There are 252 medical cases in urgent need of medical care outside of Al Ghouta. There is a shortage in vaccines, especially for tuberculosis and the measles. There is also a major shortage of medications to treat; kidney and heart problems, high blood pressure, and other illnesses, along with the supplies needed for emergency care, anesthesia and surgery. Over 18,000 were killed, over 5000 have been disabled from war-related injuries, and over 50,000 were wounded since the beginning of the crisis. A surgeon working in Al Ghouta told UOSSM’s media team in Ghouta, “We are overwhelmed with so many humanitarian tragedies. For example, we ran out of surgical sutures in our obstetrics center so we started borrowing from other centers, who now are also out of stock, now we are using expired sutures, and nylon skin sutures to stitch heart ventricular defects.”
Kathleen Rowan, CEO of UOSSM USA said, “We urge the international community to help lift the siege on the people of Al Ghouta, and provide safe and secure humanitarian access by the UN and all those responsible. Thousands of lives are at risk if something is not done soon. The deaths of these two babies are disturbing on so many levels. As always, innocent children are the ones that pay the highest price in war. “
Photos courtesy of: Amer Al Shamy