A Mexican doctor supporting Syrian hospitals
“If I had to choose, I’d like to attend to patients, I’m a doctor. Unfortunately, there are no conditions for this.”, says Alonso Cosío, a Mexican doctor from Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), who is part of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Gaziantep, Turkey, where he provides remote assistance to hospitals in Aleppo, Syria.
Gaziantep is the most important city in the south of Turkey, just 40 minutes from the Syrian border and over an hour from Aleppo, a city that has been devastated by war.
Security checkpoints are common in a city that is so close to the war conflict, on August 22 last year a suicide bomb killed over 50 people, including tens of children, in a wedding.
Nearing the tragedy
A native of Mexico City, Cosío has also participated in several missions in South Sudan, Yemen and Syria.
His first mission in South Sudan neared him to human tragedy, “I saw the effects of malnutrition, malaria, and people injured as a result of neighboring war conflicts”, says Cosío.
He adds that he attended to a seven-year-old child who was injured by a stray bullet which opened his chest, after receiving first aids and being stabilized, the boy was taken to an MSF hospital where he was saved and eventually was able to play once more.
Cosío then went to Yemen to rehabilitate a hospital that had been closed for five years, alongside his wife Maya, a surgical nurse who is also part of MSF. It was there that Cosío participated in an emergency plan that aimed to attend to children from a school that had been bombed, he remembers how aircraft motors could be heard as they were assisting the injured children, “I said to myself; “Do not think of throwing bombs in here” as we really couldn’t leave the patients behind, they come first.” Cosío shows an admirable poise as he tells of his experience in Yemen, one which could break ordinary people, but not him.
Things are different for him in Gaziantep, where he works from the distance making use of a computer that enables him to contact hospitals in Aleppo and supply them with their basic needs: gauzes, syringes, medication, vaccines, among others.
Cosío works alongside people of Brazil, Algeria, Armenia, Spain, Syria, France and Austria, “You create bonds of friendship that stay after the mission has been completed.”, he says.
Alonso Cosío has still five months left before he leaves the Middle East. He has just renewed his contract with MSF for two more years and he is still unsure of where his next mission will take him. He has left the comfort of his home in Mexico to travel to the innermost dangerous countries where no one wishes to go and where a smell of death can be breath at all times.
There is where he takes his knowledge and his heart to bring the hope of life renewed.