Yesterday Dr A and a small team returned safely to their homes in Syria after spending two days travelling around one of the most dangerous areas where we plan to open a new hospital. When I asked him to tell me what he had seen there he described a level of destruction that is hard to comprehend. He told me
"Everything has been destroyed. There was no life, even in the eyes of the people. It was worse than I thought it would be. It is chaos.
"Our team of doctors and nurses there need more support. They are exhausted.
"The building we had hoped to use for our new hospital was too badly damaged and it would be very hard to work from there. We need to pray for something better."
We made a decision to open a hospital in this challenging part of Syria a few weeks ago as the hospitals in this area were destroyed leaving thousands of civilians with no access to emergency medical care. Yet the need for urgent medical provision there is very immediate and essential.
We have been supporting a small team of doctors and nurses who have been working in this general area for some time, in incredibly difficult conditions. Over the last few weeks our team on the ground has been working hard planning a new hospital which will be better equipped to serve more people in this tough area.
There are a number of huge challenges to opening a hospital in a place like this. Safety is the first challenge, yet our courageous team of doctors and nurses are willing to risk their own lives to save the lives of others.
One of the other difficulties is the lack of water and electricity which are essential to running a hospital. Our team on the ground are experienced in running emergency hospitals in such circumstances and we will bring in tanks of water and generators.
One of the other great challenges of running hospitals in Syria right now is the difficulty in accessing fuel. Fuel is very expensive and hard to source in Syria and it is often contaminated which causes problems with the machinery. This fuel is essential for the generators and ambulances but we also need to provide heating in the hospitals for both the patients and the staff. At night, temperatures are dropping as low as -5 degrees and it is very hard for them to work in this kind of cold without adequate heating. As fuel is so precious we try to save it and use other solid fuels for heating our medical facilities.
Our team are currently searching for an appropriate building to use for this new hospital and we are buying and relocating the equipment we need to open and run this hospital ASAP. We hope to be open in the next couple of weeks.