mokdad2_Stringer_AFP_Getty Images_hospital ruins Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

The Rise and Fall of Middle Eastern Health Systems

Much of the progress in Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa in recent decades appears to have been reversed by the political unrest and civil wars now afflicting the region. This is especially true for health systems, which for years had been steadily improving in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.

SEATTLE – Much of the progress in the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa in recent decades appears to have been reversed by the political unrest and civil wars afflicting the region. This reversal is especially visible in the health systems of Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen, which previously had been steadily improving.

Before 2010, these countries were experiencing increased life expectancy as well as reduced infectious disease burdens and infant and maternal mortality. Today, however, disruptions to their health systems have compounded the trauma and misery that have arisen from the region’s many conflicts.

This is clear from a recent study that I co-authored for The Lancet, which examined data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 to determine the effects of health-system deterioration in Eastern Mediterranean countries.

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