Title : Nutritional evaluation of Syrian children recognizing the devastating effects the conflict and recent COVID-19 pandemic
The Middle East is one region in desperate need for public health nutritionists and public health nutrition strategies to address the ever escalating burden of diet-related diseases. The Middle Eastern region has been witnessing a triple burden of disease, characterized by the simultaneous presence of under-nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity as a consequence of both emergency situations and nutrition transition that are placing different communities in the region at various nutrition-related health risks. Reports indicate that food fortification in the region is sporadic and ineffective, and the use of dietary supplements is low. Although Syria achieved substantial improvements in population health before the beginning of the conflict contributing to reduced infant and childhood mortalities, the overall nutrition situation before the crisis was considered to be poor with an estimated 23% stunting prevalence, 9.3% wasting and 10.3% underweight. Now, it has been almost a decade and the country is suffering from the devastating impacts of this conflict in all aspects. The crisis has reversed development gains for Syria that had been poised to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The health sector is one of the most affected sectors by the economic collapse and infrastructure destruction of the country, and the most influential on the people lives, especially some vulnerable groups such as children. Currently, Syria is classified as one of the complex emergency situations present with severe child and maternal undernutrition and widespread micronutrient deficiencies. Since September 2017, cases of severe malnutrition and mortality among children have been reported in some areas, in addition to increased child labour.
Recently, COVID-19 pandemic is attacking the global health system at its most vulnerable points—conflict zones. The Syrian health system, already fractured by years of conflict, is being further destroyed by sanctions. Moreover, There is an overall lack of sufficient public awareness, a significant lack of resources, and a continued deterioration of nutritional status and health conditions across Syria,, making the country acutely at risk of an uncontainable COVID-19 outbreak . Based on the filled information, a study showed relatively good commitment to the preventive procedures by healthcare workers to control
COVID-19 and prevents its spread in the community; another study showed a good COVID-19 knowledge is associated with higher education level. It is expected that the epidemic will certainly affect and be affected by people health and nutritional practices. Nutritional status is influenced by multiple and inter-related factors including access to food, health care, water and sanitation, care and feeding practices and gender. Our goal is to give an insight about the public health awareness and nutrition status in Syria today.
Audience Take Away:
• Present an insight about the public health awareness and nutrition status in Syria today
• Studies and scientific initiatives are necessary to assess current dietary intakes/patterns, support nutrition education, and to reduce food insecurity, especially among vulnerable population groups
• Argent actions should be considered in targeting micronutrient fortification programs and supplementation recommendations as approaches to help alleviate the burden of micronutrient deficiencies and inadequacies in Syria
• There is an urgent need for research on the mechanisms by which conflict affects child health and development and the relationship between physical health, mental health, and social conditions
• Particular priority should be given to studies on child development, the long term effects of exposure to conflict, and protective factors against the harmful effects of armed conflict on children