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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 publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

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