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Dispatches: Taking Care of the Caregivers

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
In early December, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on “global health and foreign policy.” As the title suggests, it was a bit of a grab bag, covering issues such as vaccines, strengthening health systems, and Ebola. But the resolution also included the General Assembly’s strongest statement yet on the issue of attacks on health workers, facilities, and patients, and called on governments to act to ensure health workers and patients are safe and facilities protected from attack.

Attacks on Health Workers Violate Everyone's Human Rights

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Attacks on health workers, facilities, and patients violate the Geneva Conventions and international human rights law. How can we protect the human rights of those who give impartial care, and of those who desperately need it? Last month I joined a gathering of the diplomatic, global health, and humanitarian communities to discuss United Nations leadership for protecting access to health care. The UN Global Health and Foreign Policy Group is proposing a resolution to the UN General Assembly focused on ensuring the safety of health workers in conflict and emergency situations.

Fear, Trust, and Attacks on Ebola Workers

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
As health workers fan out across the Ebola-stricken areas of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, they are facing a battle on two fronts: fighting Ebola and addressing the fears, rumors, and myths of those at risk of Ebola. Sadly, those fears, rooted in a lack of understanding of a deadly disease never seen before in these countries and a long history of corruption and mistrust of government, has led to health workers being attacked and killed.

UN Security Council Open Debate on Children in Armed Conflict: Building Momentum for the Need to Ensure Children's Access to Health in Conflict

Friday, September 12, 2014
On September 8, the United Nations Security Council and Member States convened at an Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, to address the devastating impact these violent settings have on the security and healthy development of children. This occasion marked the second open debate on this issue, following the Secretary General’s July 1 Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict, and sadly comes at a time when children have been forced to bear the brunt of some of the most severe ramifications of war and civil unrest.

Doctors Play God in Syria's 'Town of the Armageddon'

Thursday, August 28, 2014
The scale of the disaster in Ghouta did not truly sink in until I saw the images streaming in on YouTube and Arabic news channels. These are the images that throttle the soul—children, dead, lying in rows among hundreds, their angelic faces a chilling contrast to the monstrosity that claimed their lives. Nothing in medical school prepares you for this.

On the Frontlines of Armed Conflict: A First Responder's Story

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Emergency room nurse Nora Hellman is a frontline health worker who has responded following natural disasters and during armed conflicts around the world to provide lifesaving medical care. With a background in wilderness medicine, Nora has deployed to extremely difficult working conditions with International Medical Corps but is quick to point out the courageousness and hard work of the local staff she worked alongside throughout numerous disasters.

Medical Professional Imprisoned on Politically Motivated Charges

Friday, August 15, 2014
Last month, Dr. Saeed al-Samahiji, a Bahraini ophthalmologist, was arrested from his home to begin serving a one-year prison sentence after being convicted of “insulting the King of Bahrain” at a funeral last year. Dr. Al-Samahiji was among 20 medics in Bahrain that were convicted by a special military court on 29 September 29, 2011, for treating Bahraini citizens who had been attacked by security forces in the brutal government crackdown in response to peaceful protests in February of that year.

A Multidimensional Approach to Safeguarding Health Workers

Friday, August 15, 2014
Local and international health workers in Libya face a complex array of threats to their physical, financial, and emotional security. Earlier this month, Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy and Federal Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj organized evacuations for thousands of Indian nurses who worked at Libyan hospitals in Tripoli and Benghazi.

Attacking Health Care: A Common Denominator in Conflict

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Although the government has denied attacking Fallujah General Hospital, the weapons used in the attacks – mortar shells, direct fire weapons, and barrel bombs – are consistent with Iraqi military equipment. In deliberately attacking the hospital, the government of Iraq has unfortunately followed the nefarious example of its Syrian neighbor. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq possess unique traits, but they share some underlying factors.

The Heroism of Polio Vaccine Workers in Pakistan

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Just because time advances, it doesn’t mean conditions get better. It wasn’t all that long ago that polio had largely been eradicated from the world. But polio is back—in Nigeria, in Syria and, more significantly, in Pakistan. The story is complex, woven with political issues that seem to be unrelated to the reemergence of this horrible disease.

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