WHO to Protect Health Workers in Conflict Zones

WHO to Protect Health Workers in Conflict Zones WHO to Protect Health Workers in Conflict Zones

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a campaign as a part of World Humanitarian Day (August 19) to draw the international community’s attention to threats faced by health workers and the need to intensify action to protect them in conflict zones.

The theme is ‘Inspiring World’s Humanity’ and the day is an opportunity to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe. It was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

According to the WHO, in 2014, as many as 372 attacks in 32 countries on health workers were reported, in which 603 were killed and 958 injured while doing humanitarian work in various conflict zones.

Launching the campaign, Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general said, “WHO is committed to saving lives and reducing suffering in times of crisis. Attacks against health care workers and facilities are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law. Health workers have an obligation to treat the sick and injured without discrimination. All parties to conflict must respect that obligation,” reported the WHO website.

In 2015, hundreds of health workers have died in conflict zones and fighting disease outbreaks such as Ebola that inflicted 875 health workers, among who 509 have died so far, WHO said.

In Iraq, more than 180 front line health services in 10 governorates were withdrawn due to unwanted attacks on health workers leaving millions of refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities without access to health care.

“This year, the UN and its humanitarian partners invite all people to inspire the global humanitarian spirit and join any of the global humanitarian organizations and become active messengers of humanity,” the WHO said.