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An Overview of the State of Emergency Medicine in Syria


Introduction: Emergency medicine is a developing specialty in low-to-middle income countries. The specialty was in its infancy in Syria when the war started a decade ago. Syria has since experienced civil war, unrest, famine, and financial collapse that has strained its healthcare system. There is limited research and information regarding Emergency Medicine residencies and training in Syria. Therefore, this article describes the growing and current state of Emergency Medicine and its training in Syria.

Methods: A mixed methods approach using a systematic review and semi-structure interviews was utilized. MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsychINFO were searched from inception until March 9, 2022. Eligible studies were specific to emergency medicine and discussed the training of emergency medicine physicians in Syria. Semi-structured key informant interviews and a review of the Ministry of Health website were utilized to supplement information regarding the structure of emergency medicine residency in Syria.

Results: Out of 252 unique citations identified, none described emergency medicine training in Syria. The most common articles identified were case reports (40), studies of mental health (34) and nicotine use (33). Public information from the Ministry of Health website was used to gather further information regarding the current state of healthcare in Syria; however, it provided little data specific to emergency medicine. Semi-structured interviews provided additional information regarding emergency medicine training in Syria. This revealed that prior to the 2011 onset of war, Syrian EM had begun to develop and included residency training, Arab Board certification and the establishment of a national specialist society. However, it also revealed, that in Syria, emergency medicine deteriorated much faster than other sectors of health care.

Conclusion: As of now, Emergency Medicine remains in a very early phase of development as a field and medical specialty. It requires renewed commitment, funding, and development. We recommend expanding virtual emergency medicine education, partnering with established emergency medicine training programs across the region and the world, and increasing collaboration across borders to further develop emergency medicine within Syria.

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