American Public Health Association Adopts Policy Statement on Ending Attacks on Health Workers


The American Public Health Association, with 25,000 members, adopted a resolution condemning attacks on health care in conflict at its annual meeting in November. The resolution calls for specific actions to advance protection and accountability. It urges:

  • All parties of conflict to adhere to and implement the requirements of the Geneva Conventions, human rights law, and United Nations Security Council resolution 2286, which calls for protections of health workers and investigations of all attacks on and interference with health workers.
  • The World Health Organizatino and other bodies concerned with public health to raise visibility and accountability by condemning attacks on health workers and facilities, as WHO did in a 2015 statement on Yemen.
  • The World Health Organization to continue to develop its data collection and dissemination system to monitor attacks on health care, with a goal of providing a foundation for determinations of appropriate actions to prevent attacks in particular circumstances.
  • Governments and the UN Security Council to carry out full, prompt, impartial and independent investigations into uses of force that interfere with the safe delivery of health care.
  • Governments to reform their military doctrine and training to ensure protection of health care facilities and personnel in armed conflict. This includes training personnel in the Geneva Conventions and Ethical Principles of Health Care in Times of Armed Conflict and Other Emergencies, adopted by the World Medical Association.
  • Governments to reform laws, military doctrine, and training to protect health workers attempting to provide impartial care. Counter-terrorism and related laws are particularly of concern, as health professionals should not be at legal risk for providing impartial care, no matter who is the beneficiary of such care.
  • Governments to end arms sales to parties that use such weapons consistently to attack health care facilities or personnel. The United States should end such sales in compliance with the Foreign Assistance Act.
  • UN Security Council to refer alleged perpetrators of war crimes against health facilities and personnel to authorized tribunals, such as the International Criminal Court.

APHA is a member of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition. See APHA's press release for more details on its new policy statements: