Health Workers

World Health Assembly Side Event: Health and Well-Being in Emergencies

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition will cosponsor a side event, Health and Wellbeing in Emergencies, at the World Health Assembly. The event will focus on safety and health of health workers; reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health; and mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian emergencies.

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.

Strengthening International Commitment to Protect Doctors, Health Workers, and Hospitals Overseas

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Last December, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution affirming protection from violence for medical personnel, patients, and health facilities. The resolution reveals the extraordinary challenges of providing care in conflict zones. The Reporter talked with Widney Brown, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights, about the problem of violence against health workers and the importance of committing to medical neutrality.

Eradicating Polio Requires Protecting Vaccinators

Monday, April 20, 2015
An increasingly alarming roadblock to eradicating polio is the rise in attacks on health care workers employed as vaccinators. In 2013-2014, 89 polio workers and their police escorts were killed in Pakistan and Nigeria. What’s most striking about this figure is that it exceeds the estimated number of actual deaths from polio; the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) estimated that between 15 and 30 people died from the disease in 2014.

Health Care in Danger Report: The Untold Suffering

Monday, April 20, 2015
“An airstrike destroys the paediatric and premature baby section of a hospital killing, among others, five babies and three mothers. A health-care centre occupied by security forces for days, preventing patients’ access to medical treatment. A clearly marked ambulance misused for an arrest operation. A doctor threatened not to treat wounded combatants of an armed group”. The data on these and other incidents were collected by the ICRC in 11 countries from January 2012 to December 2014 and published in a report, uncovering the untold suffering that violence against health care is causing to thousands.

Healthcare and Conflict

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
In the last 4 years of conflict in Syria, there has been an estimated 610 deaths of healthcare professionals and 233 deliberate attacks on healthcare facilities. Despite being explicitly prohibited by international law, healthcare facilities are one of the first targets in conflict situations. Junko Takata and Claire Peet of Polygeia highlight the longterm effects of violence against health workers during conflict, and ways Polygeia and other organizations and individuals can get involved in protecting health workers.

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.

Under the Gun: Practicing Medicine in Syria

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
It hurts me that my country needs doctors and I left. I was completing my medical residency at a public hospital when anti-government protests first broke out in Syria. By the end of 2011, government security forces were bringing detained members of the opposition to my hospital for treatment. Members of the security forces would insult and physically attack the medical staff, while also causing chaos by shooting their weapons into the air.

Yemen: ICRC Calls for Unimpeded Delivery of Medical Supplies as Heavy Conflict Persists

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Tuesday called for the urgent removal of obstacles to the delivery to Yemen of vital medical supplies needed to treat casualties from a week of deadly clashes and air strikes. A shipment of ICRC medical supplies sufficient to treat from 700 to 1,000 people was due to arrive by plane on Tuesday for distribution to hospitals across the country that are running low on the means to treat the war wounded. So far, efforts to negotiate the safe arrival of the plane have not been successful.

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