For Immediate Release

April 10, 2015

Washington DC – A critical lack of dialysis equipment and supplies has led to the death of 10 patients in Eastern Ghouta, and all remaining supplies are expected to run out in the next two weeks. This immediately threatens the lives of 23 patients at a hemodialysis clinic, the only unit in Eastern Ghouta. With the area under siege, hemodialysis supplies and equipment have been unable to enter region for two years. 

Extreme equipment shortages in recent months forced medical teams at this clinic to limit treatment to three dialysis sessions per patient each month, one third of the original sessions provided to patients. The decrease in treatments has already contributed to the death of 10 patients. The hemodialysis unit now treats 23 patients with a total of 70 sessions each month. All available supplies will only last for 25 dialysis sessions, just ten days of treatment for each patient. All dialysis patients will die within days of dialysis treatment ending unless urgent action is taken. 

For more than two years, Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, has been under siege and food, electricity, water, and medical care has been extremely limited. This facility had procured six hemodialysis machines from the Douma Public Hospital after it was destroyed in an airstrike in June 2013. Since then, supplies and consumables to run the unit were procured from medical warehouses that had supplied the hospital, and then from other private hospitals and vendors. Several NGOs like SAMS have provided fuel and supplies to keep the facility running. Recently the availability of supplies and consumables even in Damascus proper has decreased, coupled with an increase in the strictness of the siege enforcement and a recent government offensive against the area. These factors have led to extreme supply shortages. 

SAMS calls on an international response to this critical humanitarian situation. It is essential that medical aid convoys be allowed to enter Eastern Ghouta immediately and provide the necessary equipment for dialysis such as bicarbonates, filters, bicarbonate, and emergency dialysis catheters. The U.S. and entire international community must pressure the Syrian government to work with the Syrian Red Crescent and other partners to allow humanitarian convoys into Eastern Ghouta as is mandated in UN Security Council Resolution 2139, which directs that all parties “immediately end the siege of populated areas,” and send humanitarian aid convoys, including medical assistance, into these besieged areas immediately. The siege and targeting of civilians is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law as per the Geneva Convention and must be ended immediately.