Health & Wellness

NBC focuses on youngest victims of Syria's war

This week, NBC News will launch a special series "Forgotten? Syria's Children of War." The live documentary will unfold on Tuesday and Wednesday, following the lives of Syrian children over 48 hours on, TODAY, and Nightly News. 

As the third anniversary of the conflict in Syria approaches, NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman is calling attention to the plight of babies born into the crisis, and their uncertain future.

Reporting Monday from a hospital in Lebanon, just 3 miles over the border with Syria, Snyderman showed a room in Taanayel hospital, where Syrian women have come to give birth.

The facility is small, Snyderman said, with 34 hospital beds.

“But is has 27 isolettes, or incubators, which tells you about the humanitarian crisis we are seeing here,” Snyderman said on TODAY.

One woman was finally getting some rest after delivering a baby girl on Sunday. Another woman, still resting in bed with a blanket pulled to her chin, was about to undergo a Caesarean section. The women were separated by a nightstand, no curtain in between them.

“This room is very stereotypical for this hospital, clean but small,” Snyderman said.

The Syrian women who come here are often accompanied by their own mothers and grandmothers.

“It goes to the heart of the crisis,” Snyderman said. “Syria has lost 60 percent of its hospitals, with refugees still drifting over the mountains.”

More women had just arrived, she said.

“Babies being born, just in this hospital, to the tune of 10 to 15 a day, which raises the question: What happens when those babies go home, because they’re going to some kind of refugee camp with international support, or not,” Snyderman said.

The war has created a devastating health crisis, with more than 5 million children affected, according to reports.

More than 1 million children have fled and struggle to get medical assistance in refugee camps, and 4.3 million children are still inside Syria and have the same problem, according to a report released Sunday by Save the Children that relied on figures from UNICEF. As displaced parents have no way of getting their children vaccinated, measles, meningitis and polio are on on the rise, the report found.

Syrian children “are not only killed by shells and bullets, they are becoming sick and dying because they cannot access the healthcare they have a right to,” said the report.