Impact of armed conflict on health professionals' education and training in Syria: a systematic review

Yamama Bdaiwi, Ammar Sabouni, Preeti Patel, Abdulkarim Ekzayez, Safwan Alchalati, Omer Abdrabbuh*, Aula Abbara, Margaret Glogowska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To provide an overview of the holistic impact of the armed conflict on medical education and health professionals’ training (MEHPT) in Syria.
Setting Syria is a country which underwent an armed conflict for 10 years and suffered from the weaponisation of health.

Methods: A mixed-methods systematic review including quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods and textual literature between 2011 and 2021 including papers on the Syrian MEHPT undergraduate and postgraduate education and training personnel (including medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals). The electronic search was conducted in October 2018 in Embase, Global Health, Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science, PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL and grey literature. And an update to the search was conducted in August 2021 in PubMed, Google Scholar and Trip database.

Outcomes: The impact of conflict on the MEHPT system, personnel, experiences, challenges and channels of support.

Results: Of the 5710 citations screened, 70 met the inclusion criteria (34 quantitative, 3 qualitative, 1 mixed-method, and 32 reports and opinion papers). The two major cross-cutting themes were attacks on MEHPT and innovations (present in 41% and 44% of the papers, respectively), followed by challenges facing the MEHPT sector and attitudes and knowledge of trainees and students, and lastly health system and policy issues, and narrating experiences.

Conclusion: Conflict in Syria has politicised all aspects of MEHPT. Influenced by political control, the MEHPT system has been divided into two distinguished geopolitical contexts; government-controlled areas (GCAs) and non-GCAs (NGCAs), each having its characteristics and level of war impact. International and regional academic institutes collaboration and coordination efforts are needed to formulate educational platforms using innovative approaches (such as online/blended/store-and-forward/peer-training/online tutoring) to strengthen and build the capacity of the health workforce in conflict-affected areas.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere064851
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Early online date20 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2023


  • education & training (see medical education & training)
  • health education
  • medical education & training


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