Open Hospitals Project in Syria

The most recent estimates (OCHA data) state that 13.5 million Syrians are in need of aid, and 11.5 million of them have no access to health care; 40% of these are children.

The Open Hospital Project started from the observation that the three existing Catholic hospitals in Syria were not utilized to their full potential due to a lack of financial and material resources namely:

  • The Italian Hospital in Damascus (founded in 1913 and managed by the Salesian Sisters Daughters of Mary. The Hospital has 55 beds and employs 26 physicians and 54 nurses);
  • The French Hospital in Damascus (founded in 1905 and managed by the Daughters of Saint Vincent of Paul. The hospital has 104 beds and employs 47 physicians and 139 nurses); and
  • The St. Louis Hospital in Aleppo (founded in 1905 and managed by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Apparition. The hospital has 60 beds and employs 18 physicians and 44 nurses)

The Open Hospital Project’s objective is to support the expenses of these three hospitals in view of enabling them to provide medical care services to the most vulnerable populations in Aleppo and Damascus.

Open Hospitals Project in Syria – AVSI


The Open Hospital Project was initiated by Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria who, together with Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, Secretary of the former Pontifical Council Cor Unum (now Dicastery for the Service of the Integral Human Development), considered it crucial to give relief and aid to the Syrian population exhausted by war.

The Project is implemented by the AVSI Foundation that has been recognized since 1973 by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Union as a non-governmental organization for international cooperation (NGO). It holds, among others, General Consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York, with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York and with the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna.


The project has a duration of three and half years, starting from July 2017. Its absolute goal is to provide 50’000 medical free treatments to the poorest population living in Damascus and Aleppo.

To that effect, three Social Offices have been set up (one per hospital) to receive medical treatment requests and to identify the patients that are most in need. The Social Offices ensure that the most poor are prioritized and get free access to medical treatments.

In the period between November 2017 and April 2019, over 20’789 medical care services have been provided to patients identified as poor, free of charge (surgical operations, diagnostic tests, common diseases treatments, outpatient treatments).

The Project supported by the Caritas Pro Vitae Gradu Charitable Trust

The Caritas Pro Vitae Gradu Charitable Trust takes part in the Open Hospitals Project by funding, for all three catholic hospitals in Syria, all the salaries and expenses incurred by the hospital staff and the social offices, for a two years period.

Special Note : The Holy Father Francis personally supports this projects and has addressed the following speech  to the participants at the working meeting on the crisis in Syria and the neighbouring countries (Vatican City, September 14 2018):

“Among the many praiseworthy initiatives promoted by you, I would like to mention the great work this year to support the return of Christian communities to the Nineveh plain in Iraq, and the health care provided to so many poor people in Syria, in particular through the project “Open Hospitals”.

Interview of Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria.

Watch the interview of Cardinal Mario Zenari taking place in Summer 2019, promoting the extremely meaningful “Open Hospitals” project in Syria.

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