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Syria: Mobile hospital provides critical health services to people in Aleppo

14 Jul 2016


A girl uprooted by the ongoing conflict in Syria sits outside a shelter for displaced people in the city of Aleppo. Access to the city’s health-care facilities remains extremely limited .Credit: UNICEF

Syria’s once most populous city, Aleppo, has been particularly affected by ongoing conflict and insecurity since 2012. The access to and the availability of the city’s health-care facilities are now extremely limited. As the conflict enters its sixth year, demand for health-care services has grown exponentially, especially for infants and pregnant women.

Almost three out of four public hospitals in Aleppo are either shut down or operating at reduced capacity [1]. Over 1.3 million people—a staggering 66 per cent of the population—are deprived of access to medical assistance. Efforts to improve health services in Aleppo have been curtailed by recurrent insecurity, limiting national and international NGOs’ operations and hindering the delivery of medicine and medical supplies to the city [2].

The Hospitainer - this is how the mobile hospital is known - was introduced to provide an immediate solution to extend basic surgical capacity in Aleppo. Built in a 40-foot shipping container, the mobile hospital contains an operating theatre, a sterilization cabin, and pre- and post-operation theatre rooms. The rooms contain monitors, an operation table, a suction unit, an anesthesia machine, a water tank, a generator, instruments and consumables for about 2,000 surgeries, and medicine/consumables for about 2,500 people for 12 months. As medical tests are required prior to surgeries and treatments, the Hospitainer includes a laboratory and a full digital X-ray facility in addition to other features. It is designed to provide all the essentials to perform basic medical operations, such as caesarean sections, emergency surgeries and other life-saving operations.

The certified health professionals who will run the Hospitainer will be trained in how to use the equipment and to carry out hygiene practices. To address water scarcity in Aleppo, staff will also be trained on sterilizing water to clean wounds.

The 12-month project is funded by the Syria Humanitarian Fund, which is managed by OCHA on behalf of the Humanitarian Coordinator. It aims to provide medical services to 7,900 people in a place where almost 31,000 births take place per year [3]. The equipment and structure are expected to last between 10 to 30 years. 

At the end of the project, the Hospitainer will be owned and run by the Monastery of Saint James Intercisus and staffed by Ministry of Health personnel. When the health situation in Aleppo improves, the Hospitainer can be moved to other areas as needed.



[1] SINA - Syrian Integrated Needs Assessment (2013), Syrian Arabic Republic

[2] Key informant assessment Report, Syria Crisis / Aleppo District (2014), REACH

[3] - Syrian Integrated Needs Assessment (2013), Syrian Arabic Republic