In 1947, Syria had only 37 hospitals, with a total of 1,834 beds, but by 1985, the number of hospitals had increased to 195, with 11,891 beds. As of 1999, there were an estimated 1.3 physicians and 1.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people. The government also maintains mobile hospital units, modern laboratories, X-ray centers, sanatoriums, and dispensaries. In 1991, there were 10,114 physicians, 3,362 dentists, 3,634 pharmacists, and 11,957 nurses. In 1990–97, was a nurse to doctor ratio of 1:2. The population per nursing professional in 1993 was 1:159. In 1993, about 99% of the population had access to health care services. As of 1999, total health care expenditure was estimated at 2.5% of GDP.
Since World War II, malaria has been virtually eliminated with the aid of the World Health Organization, but intestinal and respiratory diseases associated with poor living conditions are still common, particularly in rural areas. In 1995, there were 185 cases of leprosy and 1,235 cases of measles reported; in 1993 there were 961 cases of malaria. In 1999, there were an estimated 85 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 reported. In 2000, 80% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 90% had adequate sanitation.
As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 30.1 and 5.1 per 1,000 people. About 45% of married women (ages 15 to 49) used contraception in 2000. In the same year, the infant mortality rate was 24 per 1,000 live births. In 1998, maternal mortality was 110 per 100,000 live births. Average life expectancy was 70 years for both men and women. Immunization rates for children up to one year old in 1995 were tuberculosis, 100%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 100%; polio, 100%; and measles, 98%. Rates for DPT and measles as of 1999 were, respectively, 94% and 97%.
Tobacco consumption rose from 3.3 kg (7.3 lbs) in 1984–86 to3.4 kg (7.5 lbs) a year per adult in 1995. There were 36 cases of AIDS in 1996, with an HIV prevalence rate of 0.0 per 100 adults in 1999.