Syria: From birth to death - Testimony of an MSF surgeon

US Surgeon Steve Rubin describes his work in one of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospitals in northern Syria, where MSF treats common health problems as well as injuries inflicted by the war.

“Before the war, people in Syria had good quality care. Some of the people really want that care again. So they come in here because they don’t have any other options to go to anymore.

Other than us, everybody else is doing war trauma, so the other hospitals can’t help them for most pathologies. That’s why we’re here... we’re trying to fill a gap for them.

Essentially the Emergency Room deals with diabetics, hypertensives, people with heart disease… On top of that we deal with casualties that are coming in, shrapnel wounds, and then we’re always prepared for the mass casualties.

But we’re also bringing new life into the world on a daily basis. Nobody else in the area is running a hospital that’s doing maternity. There are midwives in the communities, but there’s no hospital doing it any more.

We do the full gamut, from birth to death.

The operating theatre is an inflated tent, but it works… Essentially we have equipment – not everything that we need – but it’s good enough.

It’s not the usual surgical environment. It’s an MSF environment, and you walk in and say… I’m going to do the best I can do with what I have, and save as many lives as I can.”