Mission statement and background

The Syria Public Health Network was established in early 2015 in response to calls for an independent and critical assessment of the humanitarian and health response to the crisis, from colleagues working in Syria and the wider region. It aims to create an independent and neutral space for discussion, analysis and to generate policy proposals for the types of health interventions and research that might help to address current and future health needs in Syria and the region.


A key function of the network is to improve understanding of the types of research and interventions that are taking place within the health response, and their political and social determinants. Workshops organised by the network incorporate key people working for UN agencies, donors, iNGOs, NGOs as well as academic researchers, journalists and those working on the ground in Syria and neighbouring countries.


Chairs: Dr Aula Abbara and Dr Fouad M Fouad


The steering committee of SPHN and our wider network includes academics, medical, public health and social policy professionals who have worked extensively on health and social welfare issues in Syria and the Middle East and North Africa before and after the onset of the current conflict. They bring a diverse range of experience and professional connections to SPHN which aims to amplify and advocate for the current and future needs of Syrian health care workers, refugees and host communities. 

The steering committee refers to the chairs and co-founders. The wider network refers to the wider professional network which includes international organisations, civil society and individuals spanning the academic, NGO/INGO, government, media and donor communities.

Our current activities

Since late 2016, the Syrian Public Network have been involved in three projects; the first is the Lancet-AUB Commission on Syria (https://aublcs.fxbprojects.org), the second conducting a study for the World Bank to explore the current situation for Syrian healthcare workers in the region and what can be done to support them[a1] . (http://cmimarseille.org/highlights/strengthening-human-resources-health-integration-refugees-host-community-health-systems) For this, we produced a background paper for a meeting at the Centre for Mediterranean Integration (Marseille) which was organised by the World Bank and OECD as part of their broader work on Strengthening Human Resources for Health and the Integration of Refugees into Host Community Health Systems. Our third ongoing project explores the social networks of health care workers in Lebanon. This is funded with a grant from International Institute for Environment and Development. (https://www.iied.org).

SPHN co-chair Dr Fouad M Fouad is a commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Syria and has co-authored the first contribution of the commission which was published in the Lancet on the sixth anniversary of the Syrian conflict. It explores the weaponisation of healthcare in Syria. (http://thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)30741-9/fulltext). SPHN are part of the Research and Documentation Team which has an important role in supporting the commission to identify what information is available for analysis and what key evidence gaps remain.  

Throughout 2017, SPHN will continue research and policy advocacy on Syrian healthcare workers in the region which aims to generate pragmatic policy options but also help guide the future development of Syria's health and social welfare systems. We plan a meeting of experts and policy makers later this year to disseminate key findings and recommendations from our work. 

Research, policy and media support

The SPHN can provide assistance with media queries on the situation in the region as well as setting up policy roundtables linking NGOs to donor communities. We also help with the design and implementation of research on the Syria crisis.