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After Syria sarin attack, doctors train to treat chemical weapons victims

Friday, July 21, 2017 - 01:53

After the chemical weapons attack in northern Syria in April a group of doctors from rebel-held territory are the first to benefit from an expanded training program run by the WHO on how to treat victims of such incidents. Emily Wither went to meet them in Gaziantep.

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It wasn't something they had to learn in medical school. But these days knowing how to cope with a chemical weapons attack has become the new reality in Syria. These doctors from rebel-held territory are the first to receive this expanded training run by the World Health Organization. They are taught that once a chemical attack has taken place they have to quickly remove the toxic agents. And not contaminate themselves. Osama Darwish, like many doctors here, responded to a deadly chemical weapons attack in northern Syria in April. He suffered symptoms and has learned how to protect himself and his staff. (SOUNDBITE) (ARABIC) DOCTOR OSAMA DARWISH SAYING: "We had treated for chlorine, but the symptoms of chlorine are different to the symptoms we saw. They were very severe and it was the first time we had dealt with them. The hospital wasn't prepared. We didn't have the equipment or the kits for the medical teams to protect themselves, and the teams were not prepared." The international chemical weapons watchdog says the nerve agent sarin was used in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, where up to 100 people died. One of the trainers has worked in conflict zones for more than two decades. He says Syria is the toughest. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) DOCTOR MOHAMMED ELGAZZAR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION TECHNICAL OFFICER, SAYING: "I can remember many situations we as doctors as surgeons inside Syria when we see the severity of injuries sometimes we cried, really we cried when we seen such kind of injury." The Syrian government promised to give up their chemical weapons in 2013 and denies using banned toxins. The doctors will head back to Syria armed with a thousand medical kits. They fear chemical attacks will happen again and next time they want to be prepared.

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After Syria sarin attack, doctors train to treat chemical weapons victims

Friday, July 21, 2017 - 01:53