A Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Press Release, March 18, 2024

Today, three SAMS doctors returned from a two-week medical mission inside Gaza, carried out in conjunction with the Palestinian American Medical Association (PAMA) and the Jordanian American Physicians Association (JAPA). The volunteer physicians observed that the medical sector is completely overwhelmed, that both hospitals and staff are targets of violence, and that lack of access to food, water, supplies is compounding the risks of patients even with treatable injuries.

Dr. Mike Mallah, an acute care surgeon from South Carolina who returned from Gaza today said, “Almost everyone on staff has had their homes destroyed, has had family members killed. In fact, while I was on rounds the other day…one of our physicians had just received a call that one of his cousins had been killed and had to leave the hospital.” According to Mallah, the constant violence was pulling doctors and nurses away from what was already a “skeleton crew” inside the hospital.

SAMS Member and anesthesiologist Dr. Hisham Naji of Virginia, who completed a two-week mission in Gaza last month, said the hospital staff were exhausted and lacked medical supplies. “We met one physician who lost his mom, his 3 daughters and 2 grandchildren, and (the physician) was severely injured in his arm.”

Physicians for Human Rights has tracked over 1,000 reported attacks on medical personnel and infrastructure in Gaza since October 7. And according to the UN, over 300 health workers have already been killed and over half of Gaza’s hospitals have been damaged beyond being able to function.

SAMS’ President, Dr. Mufaddal Hamaedah urges all parties and the international community to adhere to Article 18 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which calls for the protection of civilian hospitals. “SAMS urges the international community and healthcare organizations and professionals around the world to speak up and unite behind their colleagues in Gaza, calling for the protection of their hospitals and patients and to have free and safe access to much needed medical services in these dire situations,” he said. 

SAMS is a nonprofit, non-political organization that works on the front lines of crisis relief, providing medical and humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable in Syria, its neighboring countries, and beyond.  Last year, SAMS provided lifesaving medical services to 3.6 million people.  For more information about SAMS, go to www.sams-usa.net.

To speak with Drs. Mallah or Naji, or to SAMS’ President, contact David Lillie at dlillie@sams-usa.net.