WHO: Healthcare should not be a target in conflict zones

Every year, August 19 is observed as World Humanitarian Day. Acknowledging this day helps brings citizens of the world together to rally support for people living in crises and to pay tribute to the aid workers who help them

Image courtesy: National Public Radio (USA)
Image courtesy: National Public Radio (USA)

The World Health Organization through its reports have appealed to stop attacks on health care providers and facilities on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day.

In one of the articles it appeals to join the #NotATarget movement and demand world leaders do everything in their power to protect all civilians and healthcare workers in conflict.

“Health is a fundamental human right, and attacks on healthcare are a blatant violation of that right,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

Emergencies cause immense suffering for millions of people – usually the world’s poorest, most marginalised and vulnerable individuals.

Humanitarian aid workers, including healthcare workers, strive to provide life-saving assistance and long term rehabilitation to disaster-affected communities, regardless of where they are in the world and without discrimination based on nationality, social group, religion, sex, race or any other factor.

In one of its articles it mentions that the sanctity of health care, the right to health care, and international humanitarian law are threatened: patients are shot in their hospital beds, medical personnel are menaced or attacked, facilities are bombed, depriving people of urgently needed care, endangering health care providers, undermining health systems and long term public health goals, and contributing to the deterioration in the health and wellbeing of affected populations.

Essential life-saving health services must be provided to emergency-affected populations unhindered by any form of violence or obstruction.

Attacks on health facilities, health workers and ambulances continue with alarming frequency. According to the data systematically collected by WHO through the Surveillance System on Attacks on Health Care, in the first half of 2018, 107 people died following 354 attacks on health facilities or transportation in 5 countries or territories (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syrian Arab Republic, West Bank and the Gaza Strip).

Every hospital destroyed and every health worker killed or injured takes health services away from the people who need them most, often taking many years to replace. Stop attacks on healthcare.