Edmonton doctor speaks about violence in Syria
Dr. Maher Saqqur has been assisting doctors in Syria via an online telehealth system
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday the White House has "clear" and "compelling" evidence that more than 1,400 people in Syria, nearly a third of them children, were killed last week in a chemical attack.
These findings seem to confirm the observations of one Edmonton doctor who recently returned from Syria, where he was helping treat victims of the recent violence.
Dr. Maher Saqqur, who is originally from Damascus, said there is no doubt in his mind that things like white phosphorous and sarin gas have been used as he’s seen patients – even in the last few days – that showed classic symptoms of chemical attacks.
Saqqur, a critical care neurologist, is one of a team of doctors who have been trying to support the victims in Syria, where the medical system is in a desperate situation.
Only about 30 of 5,000 doctors remain in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. This has left a huge demand for the kind of specialist help Saqqur can offer.
Since returning to Edmonton, Saqqur has been using Skype to continue to help patients via an online telehealth system that connects him to four intensive care units in Syria.
"Eighty per cent of the medical infrastructure got destroyed and we are trying to manage massacre after massacre after massacre," he said.
Even back in Canada, Saqqur and about 50 other doctors remain permanently on call to provide assistance to medical teams in Syria – a task Saqqur sees as his duty.
"It’s my inside telling me I have to do it," he says. "It's my rule as a physician I have to do my part."
Now, Saqqur is trying to encourage other doctors to join his online network to better help those trapped in what the United Nations is calling the worst humanitarian crisis this century.
With files from CBC's Gareth Hampshire