Dr. Majed Aboali / December 11, 2014

A Medical Outbreak In Eastern Ghouta

Residents of Eastern Ghouta have been surrounded by regime forces for more than two years. No one can come in or out of the city. The cut off of water and electricity means sanitary health conditions have drastically declined.

Dua’a , the 10-year-old girl, will never know who forced her to be in that embarrassing condition in the corners of her classroom. She will always be embarrassed of her shaved head showing her shiny scalp. she will alienate herself and take refuge in some corner as if she’s the one who brought this upon herself. Some little boys will dance around her and talk about the worms in her head. Is it the doctors and nurses who didn’t sanitize her wound properly due to the enormous number of injured people in al-Ghouta or is it her parents who couldn’t change the bandage appropriately? Is it the war that made the health conditions in Syria deteriorate rapidly?


Dua’a, the 10-year-old girl from al-Ghouta, came to one of the medical points complaining about an itch and a pain in the head. At first she was diagnosed with herpes, but later one of the doctors realized that it was myiasis which hasn’t been reported before in the area. Prior to the war, there were few individual cases in some families due to the negligence of caring for wounds and lack of personal hygiene.




Dua’a isn’t the only person suffering from these worms, we discovered later that many patients who come to the medical points are carrying the same worms that show up in wounds contaminated by the eggs of some insects. Hospitalization departments in Eastern Ghouta are filled with the wounded and we are rarely able to offer full health care until recovery; the patient has to continue his recovery journey at home so that another patient can receive hospital treatment for at least the first few days of his injury. We cannot guarantee that the health care provided at home offers the conditions of sterility and wound cleanness comparable in the hospital.


Eastern Ghouta made it into the Guinness World Record Book twice before, once for the biggest restaurant in the world and the other time for the largest furniture gallery. Today Eastern Ghouta will earn a new place in the Guinness book with the highest price for fuel as it reached $12 per liter last summer in an area that recently celebrated the 2nd anniversary of its electricity being completely cut-off. The community would be shocked if we asked them to iron their clothes properly or boil the polluted well water as a way of health awareness against this disease. It would come as a shock to ask the patient to come back for a daily check up in one of the medical points where he won’t even be able to find a place in the waiting lines to change his bandage. Besides, it’s almost impossible under the circumstances of the rise of fuel prices to transport patients with vehicles.


One of  the doctors who is following these cases talks about her concern regarding this disease saying: “It’s a proof of the deterioration of health conditions here in Syria and it’s the first time we encounter this disease in such numbers in the same area.” 


This two-time Guinness World Record region is still demanding another unauthorized record besides having the world’s most expensive fuel price: it’s the region most subjected to chemical attacks in the world. The citizens of Eastern Ghouta think that due to the amount of chloride gas that was bombed on them will be enough to sanitize the water they use and diseases like herpes will never be a problem. But what if we manage to send this chemical substance in the right way since the pollution of water and environment increase the risks of being infected with those diseases? We’ve yet to see these effects…


Dr Majed Aboali is the official spokesman for the medical office of Eastern Ghouta