The supervisor of the medical section of the Syrian National Coalition has blamed the general secretariat for the death of 15 children from a deadly measles vaccination.
In an official letter to the opposition group, Jawad Abu Hatab, the Head of Syrian Health Authority responsible for medical and the aid work inside and outside Syria and a member of the Coalition, said that the secretariat did not heed emails and recommendations about the need to train medical staff. He said many contracts were signed with training bodies in Turkey and Jordan, but they were not funded.
Abu Hatab believes vaccination is a national security issue, as vaccination teams can take samples from children which can determine the genetic map, like what happened to find out Osama bin Laden’s house via a blood sample taken from his children to identify their DNA. Moreover, he said caution must be taken bringing medications into Syria, as some can induce latent diseases.
Abu Hatab also has highlighted the issue surrounding medication factories, and requested better oversight and product control.
He also repeated his demand to concentrate on the need to control drugs and vaccines entering Syria, besides treating patients and wounded, rehabilitating disabled, training medical staff in the liberated areas, supervising the training process and reconstructing hospitals.
Abu Hatab said he believed the vaccine crisis to be "the straw that broke the camel’s back", as it showed the cumulative mistakes and faults in medical services by the opposition.
He explained the reason for children’s deaths following measles vaccinations, referring to the outcome of investigations, which showed a muscle relaxant called 'Atracurium', was used to dilute vaccines instead of the accompanied diluents, which led to stopping breath and deaths in children of low weight in particular.
Regarding the background for the vaccine’s crisis, Abo Hatab said that most staff who worked on the vaccination program were activists, and not sufficiently trained to the required level by the Ministry of Health. In addition, he said there was an absence of responsible people to providee vaccination in Jerjanaz centre on the day of the incident.
Abu Hatab confirmed that all medical staff, from top to bottom, were not assigned according to standard criteria.
Abu Hatab concluded by recommending restricting the vaccination program to one organization under the Ministry of Health direction, and to allocate immediate budget to the Ministry of Health to be able to fulfil its minimum duties. He recommended restricting the duty of the medical office in the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) to draw funds from different parties to support different medical projects, and to market these projects, in coordination with the Ministry of Health, to implement them. He added that supervising the work of the Ministry of Health by the Coalition via a specific committee would be beneficial.
Regarding training, he recommended the funding of training institutes to teach medical staff in different areas and issue them official certificates and to not allow them to work without official certificates.
He also recommended refurbishing hospitals and medical centers and providing them with required equipment. Finally, he recommended the establishment of a higher medical council from the Coalition and the Ministry of Health and experienced people to establish a general plan to refresh the medical status in Syria and to retrain medical staff, refurbish hospitals, and supervising the national vaccination program and training.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer