Syria has both a public and a private health care system. The government is working to ensure services are available in both urban and rural areas. Although most villages in Syria have a government clinic or health centre, rural areas have fewer doctors and clinics. Doctors who have finished medical school and who do not intend to specialize are required to practise in rural areas for at least two years, usually in a government health centre. The same is required of dentists and pharmacists. Since government salaries for doctors are quite low, they are allowed to set up a private practice while also working in a government health centre. 
Services at government clinics and health centres are free to all citizens. Government employees and their dependents are also fully or partly reimbursed for private health care and medication costs. However, some Syrians prefer to pay for higher-quality private services, rather than using free public services. 

Syria has a high population growth rate and a very young population. About 46% of Syrians are under the age of 15 and 60% are under 20. Over the past two decades, health conditions have improved in Syria. The average life expectancy has increased to 67 years for men and 71 years for women. About 84% of the population has access to safe drinking water.

By 1997, more than 90% of Syrian children were immunized against measles. Vaccination is compulsory and free. Although the infant mortality rate has decreased significantly, some health problems persist for children, caused by hunger, poverty, overcrowding, poor nutrition and lack of knowledge about disease prevention or treatment. 

Many Syrians use traditional health practices to treat illness. Various plants are used for medicinal purposes. For example, the sabbar, a type of cactus, is used to treat rheumatism. A garlic clove cut in half is applied to a bee sting. Chamomile, cinnamon, honey, and lemon are also used to treat colds and headaches.
  Did you know?
The Syrian government is trying to prevent diseases caused by smoking. Smoking is officially prohibited in government buildings and on public transportation. Nevertheless, it is still very common in Syria.