News, blog posts, and event announcements. Other websites are welcome to cross-post this material with attribution and a link to the original.
The World Medical Association revised its Regulations in Times of Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence, endorsing collection of data and including a code of conduct for physicians in conflicts. In May 2012 at the World Health Assembly, member states of the World Health Organization passed a resolution requiring the WHO to lead international data collection of attacks on health workers, facilities, transports, and patients.
In his New York Times blog, Nicholas Kristof wrote about the horrific attack on Dr. Denis Mukwege, a doctor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who advocates for women’s health and does fistula repair. “Dr. Mukwege presumably was targeted because of a strong speech he gave at the United Nations last month denouncing mass rape in Congo and the impunity for it,” Kristof noted. This important blog depicts a sad incident in a much larger problem, which is widespread violence against health workers and health facilities under conditions of armed conflict.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Sud Kivu province has been an area of armed conflict for many years, with various rebel factions fighting for control over the resource-rich region. The continued fighting has disrupted health services — which were weak to begin with — due to geographic isolation and poorly supported health workers.
Lack of access to health care facilities, for both patients and health care providers, is one of the main obstacles to the provision of health care. There are severe staffing shortages in hospitals and other health facilities, especially in areas experiencing high levels of violence.
Leonard S. Rubenstein of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health took part in the 65th World Health Assembly in Geneva last month. Upon his return, he told the magazine of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health about the new resolution requiring the World Health Organization to lead international data collection of attacks on health workers, facilities, transports and patients.
The Safeguarding Health in Conflict coalition commends the World Health Assembly—the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO)—on its unprecedented step to protect the lives of health workers and patients in humanitarian crises by spearheading global efforts to document the number of attacks on medical services. In violent conflicts, where health needs are most urgent, health workers are at risk of assault, arrest and sometimes kidnapping and death, compromising their ability to deliver care and remain on the job. But such attacks usually go unreported; with a body of evidence, the global community can better protect fragile health systems and those on the frontlines.
If you’ve been following international news for the past year, you are most likely aware of the recent developments and political movements in the Middle East. While the Arab Spring has opened the possibility for a new wave of democracy in several Middle Eastern countries, an unfortunate new wave of crime and violence toward health facilities, doctors, and patients has emerged. This issue did not arise from the Arab Spring, nor is it a new issue, but recent events have propelled this violence into the international spotlight.
A new coalition of international nongovernmental organizations is calling on the global community to protect health workers, services, and infrastructure during armed conflict or civil disturbances. The Safeguarding Health in Conflict coalition promotes respect for international humanitarian and human rights laws that relate to the safety and security of health facilities, workers, ambulances, and patients. This marks the first time an international coalition has come together to work on this issue.
A Johns Hopkins University scholar, lawyer and human rights advocate is making a final push this week for the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) to commit formally to documenting attacks on health care workers in conflict zones. Leonard Rubenstein, JD, LLM, faculty member of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, will be at the World Health Assembly’s 65th session in Geneva, Switzerland May 21-26, representing the Safeguarding Health in Conflict coalition.
UN aid agencies are under attack from doctors working with refugees who have been displaced by fighting in Sudan, with claims that they are not doing enough to get medical supplies through to children in desperate need. Common vaccines against childhood diseases are part of Unicef's programme to protect the most vulnerable, but supplies dried up nearly a year ago in areas of conflict around the Nuba mountains, according to research by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.