Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Doctors in the Firing Line

Syria’s lost generation of doctors

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 30 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3479
  1. Aula Abbara, infectious diseases research registrar, London Deanery, and member of medical team, Hand in Hand for Syria, UK,
  2. Miriam Orcutt, academic foundation doctor, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust,
  3. Omar Gabbar, orthopaedic consultant, University Hospital, Leicester, and member of medical team, Hand in Hand for Syria
  1. Correspondence to: A Abbara aula.abbara{at}

Aula Abbara, Miriam Orcutt, and Omar Gabbar report on the difficulties facing doctors who flee Syria

Even before the recent escalation of violence in Syria the targeting of doctors and medical facilities in the Syrian civil war was systematic and the consequences profound. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has reported more targeting of healthcare workers and health facilities in the Syrian conflict than in any previous conflict, with 224 attacks on medical facilities between March 2011 and December 2014.1 In 2014, a health worker was, on average, killed every other day; in March 2015, four of the eight medical facilities attacked had been targeted previously, some by barrel bombs.

The war has shattered Syria’s medical community, with many doctors fleeing and students who remain often being forced to stop training and provide healthcare they are not fully qualified to give. Health workers may be threatened by the different armed groups to force …

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