The Lancet-AUB Commission on Syria: Health in Conflict addresses one of the most politically charged subjects of Lancet Commissions. This is justified by the following:
Profound burden of war
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have lost their lives since March 2011. The conflict has seen unspeakable suffering and destroyed much of the health system and fabric of society. Millions have been forcibly displaced from their homes inside Syria, into neighboring countries and globally as battles roared in Syrian cities, towns and the countryside. The impact for neighboring countries has been immense. Syria today is at the heart of the discussion about the so-called 'global refugee crisis'.
The unending violent conflict in Syria has provided a mirror to the crisis in global political governance and its institutions and functions. The poor international response to end the crisis and address its humanitarian consequences, the largest since World War II, have called into question the principles and pillars of the current global order. Wide-spread violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws have been well documented but have gone largely unanswered. The consequences for human rights, global health, humanitarian work, aid, and development are profound.
Many lessons from this crisis
Yet, during and due to the crisis, there has been increasing recognition of the aforementioned challenges, important experiences accumulated, new actors mobilized, and innovative initiatives implemented.
That global health is yet to examine
Considering the international scale of the crisis, global health has surprisingly paid limited attention. There is thus a need for stronger voice for science, based on sound investigation and critical scholarship, to frame and scale the crisis and advocate for change that can translate into better health for the people of Syria. Using a global health lens but drawing on cross-disciplinary perspectives, the Commission intends to learn the lessons for policy, practice and research.
The Lancet-AUB Commission on Syria: Health in Conflict is launched to facilitate a worldwide dialogue and scholarship to address this critical gap.