Damascus is considering further privatising the public healthcare system, a move that might lighten the budget burden of the Ministry of Health but will severely impact the lives of Syrians that depend on free medical services in public hospitals and primary healthcare centres. The Ministry of Health has begun the procedures to transform all public hospitals into entities with administrative and financial independence and has also taken steps to “explore” a public-private partnership model for the management of medical facilities.
As the cholera endemic continues unabated, the Ministry of Health recently received two million cholera vaccine doses – the first to reach the country since the outbreak was declared in September.
As cholera cases rise and water supplies dwindle, the Syrian government recently began operating a new water desalination plant in the Hassakeh governorate in an effort to provide potable water to residents. The plants are only meant to be used in cases of emergency, i.e. in a situation of a dramatic shortage in water supplies, likely to preserve underground water reserves. So far, the government has only activated fifteen out of the twenty plants.
Last week, the government raised the prices of pharmaceutical drugs produced by the public sector after authorising the private sector to increase its prices in February.
Last year, the total number of COVID-19 cases in all of Syria increased by 354 percent compared with 2020, while only a fraction of the population has been fully or partially vaccinated, according to the World Health Organisation. Meanwhile, Syria’s vaccination rate remains one of the lowest in the region.
The Syrian government recently approved a 30 percent increase in the prices of locally produced medicines in a concession to manufacturers who have threatened to halt production since the deterioration of the Syrian pound has decimated their profits.