The good news:
"There has been dramatic improvement in health indicators for Syria in the last three decades: life expectancy at birth has increased from 56 years in 1970 to 71.7 years in 200231; infant mortality has dropped from 123 per 1,000 live births in 1970 to 18.1 in 2001; under-five mortality rate has dropped significantly to 20 per 1,000 live births; maternal mortality has fallen from 482 per 100,000 live births in 1970 to 65.4 in 2002.
Access to health services has increased since the 1980s, especially in favor of rural populations achieving better equity. Access to health services rose from 76 percent for the period 1985-1988 to almost 90 percent in 2000. The urban-rural gap is also narrowing from 32 percent for the period 1985-1988 to only 12 percent for the period 1990-1995.
National statistics indicate that the mean number of people served by a single medical doctor was 683 in the year 2002 – ranging from 321 in Damascus, the capital, to 1,849 in the eastern province of al-Hassakeh. Government expenditure on the health sector has increased as a proportion of total government expenditure from 1.1 percent in 1980 to 3.8 percent in 2002 (National Budget Report). No well established system of health insurance exists in the country. A draft proposal for a National System of Health Insurance is under study."
The bad news:
"Despite the improved capacity of the health system, there are still a number of challenges; among these are: inadequate coordination between different providers of health services,uneven distribution of human resources, high turnover of skilled staff, an inadequate number of qualified nurses, an uncontrolled and unregulated private sector, stagnant budget allocations for health despite increasing demand and cost, and uneven distribution of quality of health and medical services among geographical regions."
Source: UN common Country Assessment 2005