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A doctor who recently returned from a trip to Syria has condemned the “destruction of the Syrian health system” and attacks on medical staff. Zaher Sahloul, president of the Syrian American Medical Society and a doctor in Chicago, told a meeting convened to discuss attacks on health facilities in Syria about the fear under which many doctors work.
Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the toughest places for aid workers, who not only struggle to reach vulnerable people due to conflict, but are also killed for being seen to help opposing groups, the head of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said.
The Taliban has ended its war on polio vaccination workers and admitted immunisation is the only way to protect children from the disease, its leadership said in a statement issued today. The announcement comes just weeks after the Afghan government launched a new campaign to immunise more than eight million children between six months and five years old throughout the country. It said it had trained 46,000 volunteers to conduct the campaign which is funded by the American aid agency USAID, the World Health Organisation and Unicef.
The law says hospitals, ambulances and health-care workers must be protected and should never be targeted as they carry out their regular duties. This is often far from the reality. Worldwide, the lack of safe access to health care is causing untold suffering to millions of people. Through the voices of doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and patients, this film shows the human cost of violence against health-care workers and facilities.
A group of Bahraini health workers have found themselves on the frontlines of a battle over medical neutrality as the aftershocks of the Arab Spring continue to rumble through the Gulf island kingdom. In theory, medical neutrality is a simple concept: physicians must be allowed to care for the sick and wounded; soldiers must receive care regardless of their political affiliations; and all parties must refrain from attacking and misusing medical facilities, transport, and personnel.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Global Health Policy Center and CSIS Middle East Program will host a roundtable discussion on Attacks on Syria's Medical Personnel and Facilities on Friday, May 10, 2:00-4:00 p.m. (EDT).
President Obama affirmed Tuesday that there’s evidence Syrians have been attacked with chemical weapons—in particular, nerve gas. But that's not the same as proof positive. “We don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them,” Obama said. “We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened.”
On April 24 Foreign Affairs published an article by Leonard S. Rubenstein, “Unhealthy Practice: Medical Work in Conflict Zones Is Compromised.” For the second time in less than six months, Rubenstein writes, polio vaccine workers in Pakistan have come under fire. For the gunmen, killing health workers has been seen as a legitimate response to a nefarious extension of Western power. For the CIA, faux vaccine campaigns have sometimes been justified as part of the war on terror. Both sides are wrong, he says: denying or providing health care should never be an instrument of statecraft.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published an update on the security situation in the Central African Republic and its effects on health and other sectors. Since the March 24 coup the security situation continues to deteriorate, particularly in Bangui, and is impeding humanitarian operations. Since April13, altercations between Seleka members and the civilian population have resulted in deaths and severe injuries.
Few telephone calls can be as portentous as the one Mumtaz Begum, 35, received on 15 March 2011. At the time, it sounded like just another call from a supervisor to a health worker inviting her to a meeting the next morning about a forthcoming vaccination campaign. As it turned out, Ms Begum and 16 other lady health workers (LHWs), as they are known locally, were to become pawns in the hunt for the world's most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden. They have since been living under constant fear of attacks, have been called traitors by some and have lost their jobs.