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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Conflict and Health 1/2018

What influenced provision of non-communicable disease healthcare in the Syrian conflict, from policy to implementation? A qualitative study

Conflict and Health > Ausgabe 1/2018
Sylvia Garry, Francesco Checchi, Beniamino Cislaghi
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13031-018-0178-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



There has been increasing focus on tackling the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD) in crisis settings. The complex and protracted crisis in Syria is unfolding against a background of increasing NCD burden. This study investigated factors influencing implementation of NCD healthcare in Syria.


This is a qualitative study, whereby semi-structured interviews were conducted with fourteen humanitarian health staff working on NCD healthcare in Syria.


Challenges to NCD care implementation were reflected at several stages, from planning services through to healthcare delivery. There was a lack of information on unmet population need; little consensus among humanitarian actors regarding an appropriate health service package; and no clear approach for prioritising public health interventions. The main challenges to service delivery identified by participants were conflict-related insecurity and disruption to infrastructure, hampering continuity of chronic illness care. Collaboration was a key factor which influenced implementation at all stages.


The historical context, the conflict situation, and the characteristics of health actors and their relationships, all impacted provision of NCD care. These factors influenced each other, so that the social views and values (of individuals and organisations), as well as politics and relationships, interacted with the physical environment and security situation. Infrastructure damage has implications for wider healthcare across Syria, and NCD care requires an innovative approach to improve continuity of care. There is a need for a transparent approach to resource allocation, which may be generalisable to the wider humanitarian health sector.
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