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Responding to Assaults on Health Care in the Middle East

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The conflicts and political crises in the Middle East have brought anguish, suffering, and severe declines in health to people throughout the region. The most catastrophic case by far is Syria, where more than a million people have experienced traumatic injuries, once-rare infectious diseases have returned, chronic disease goes untreated, and the health system has collapsed.

Health Care in Conflict: A Doctor's Perspective

Friday, May 1, 2015
Providing or seeking health care in a conflict zone is a perilous undertaking. Every year health workers are kidnapped, threatened, tortured, and killed. Hospitals and clinics are targeted and bombed. Patients are shot. In Syria alone, 187 health facilities have been attacked since March 2011, and 615 health workers were killed—141 of them by torture and execution. One doctor has made health care in conflict the center of his work.

Beyond Belief: Health Care as a Weapon

Friday, April 10, 2015
This week I took an online course offered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about health care responsibilities in times of conflict. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to consider the ethics of being a health worker in a war situation in today’s disturbing reality of what war is. There is one especially harrowing and dramatic video clip in the course: it shows the 2009 graduation ceremony of a group of Somali doctors—the first to graduate in many years. And as we look at the young doctors, proud in their robes, there is an explosion that cuts off the speaker and the picture—and then the scene is one of bodies everywhere.

Brave Women on the Front Lines of Health Care Deserve Protection

Friday, March 6, 2015
“Let me treat my patients,” pleads a Syrian doctor whose hospital has been repeatedly targeted. Around the world, attacks on health workers and facilities have reached new heights, and this violence affects women disproportionately. More than 75% of the health workforce in many countries is female, and many women are left without access to much-needed health services.

Top 10 Global Health Issues to Watch in 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015
The violence of 2014—including in Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Nigeria—is not over. War, civil unrest, and acts of terrorism can hinder or even reverse progress in all aspects of global development, including health, education, and gender equality. In 2015, the international community will continue trying to resolve these conflicts and prevent hospitals and health workers from becoming targets of violence. Last year in a landmark resolution, the United Nations stepped up to lead the global effort to protect health workers and hold accountable those who perpetrate violence against them.

Safeguarding Health: A Global Health and Humanitarian Priority

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
In late December, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for actions by States to protect health workers from violence and to assure patients access to health care in situations of conflict or insecurity. This resolution has the potential to be a milestone in the protection of health workers and patients throughout the world. It recognizes the protection of health care as a human right everywhere, at all times, and that States must be proactive in realizing it.

Documentation Vital to Ending Attacks on Health Care Workers

Thursday, January 15, 2015
2014 was a distressing year for health care workers in conflict areas around the world, as attacks on medical professionals and facilities were carried out in numerous countries. As these attacks continue, they must be appropriately documented in order to increase available information, raise awareness, and find appropriate solutions that facilitate accountability and ultimately prevent future violence.

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