Health-workers and humanitarians around the world are constantly facing danger. Helping groups of people who are involved, sometimes involuntarily, with conflict and violence often leads to new enemies. All around the world, health care workers are being targeted for helping those in need. Countries such as South Sudan, Iraq, and Syria are posting of such attacks. The World Health Organization, WHO, is calling for a stop to this madness. “Doctors, nurses and other health workers must be allowed to carry out their life-saving humanitarian work free of threat of violence and insecurity,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
According to WHO’s article (August 18, 2014) “World Humanitarian Day: WHO calls for protection of health workers in conflicts, disasters”, emergencies and need across the globe is increasing daily. The author writes,
On tomorrow’s World Humanitarian Day, celebrated every 19 August, WHO will draw attention to the continued trend of attacks on health-care workers, hospitals, clinics and ambulances in Syria, Gaza, Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan and other areas.
Threats and harassment of health workers in west African countries have also been a worrying element of the Ebola virus disease outbreak. These professionals are taking personal risks to provide critical medical care, but have been threatened, shunned and stigmatized.
“Doctors, nurses and other health workers must be allowed to carry out their life-saving humanitarian work free of threat of violence and insecurity,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
Dr Richard Brennan, Director of WHO’s Department of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response, adds: “Assaults on health workers and facilities seriously affect access to health care, depriving patients of treatment and interrupting measures to prevent and control contagious diseases. WHO has a specific mandate to protect the human right to health, especially for people affected by humanitarian emergencies.”
While the adverse impacts of attacks on health care have been well documented in conflicts such as Syria and South Sudan, Gaza, health workers are also being prevented from carrying out their essential work outside of war-zones. In Pakistan and Nigeria, polio vaccinators, most of them female, have been specifically targeted.
As part of its lead role in coordinating the health response to international emergencies, WHO is working with partners to better document, prevent and respond to such incidents. Protecting those who care for the sick and vulnerable in the world’s most difficult circumstances is one of the most pressing responsibilities of the international community.
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WHO Department of Communications
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