Stand up for medical neutrality in war zones, international community urged

November 22, 2016

The international community needs to stand up for medical neutrality in war zones, and mandate the UN Security Council to act in the face of persistent and blatant breaches of the Geneva Convention, urge global health experts in an editorial in the online journal BMJ Global Health.

Some 196 countries ratified the International Humanitarian Law, which specifically promotes medical neutrality and protection of medical services for people in war zones, as set out in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.Breaches of the law, which was modified in 1977 and 2005 to strengthen it further, are regarded as war crimes, because of their impact on civilians and medical staff who have a duty of care to those wounded in war-torn countries.

"But over the years, war crimes have persisted with little or no definitive action by the international community to stem the tide," insist the authors, Drs Soumitra Bhuyan, School of Public Health, University of Memphis, Ikenna Ebuenyi, King's College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Jay Bhatt, The Health Research and Educational Trust, Chicago.

The inaction dates back to the 1970s in Mozambigue, and is still evident today in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan, they point out. And the destruction of healthcare facilities around the world shows no sign of abating. In 2015-16, 600 such attacks were recorded--228 of them in Syria alone--killing1000 people and injuring more than 1500 others.

According to data from the World Health Organization, 113 healthcare facilities in 17 countries were attacked in the first 6 months of the 2016 alone. And as of the first week of October, every hospital in eastern Aleppo in Syria has been hit at least once, with one of the main trauma hospitals hit four times within a 5-day period. Since the war in Syria started, 654 doctors and nurses have lost their lives.

The impact of these attacks is "enormous," say the authors, outlining the psychological trauma for the survivors and the erosion of preventive healthcare, such as vaccinations and infectious disease control.

"The [International Humanitarian Law] is explicit and provides for the protection of patients, health facilities, health personnel and patients in times of war as long as they are not directly involved in hostilities," they write.

"The international community needs to rise to the occasion and match action with words by mandating the United Nations Security Council to provide protection for health facilities in war zones and enter into dialogue with government and warring groups to respect the principles of medical neutrality in conflict areas," they urge.

This means that the Council and governments of all nations need to develop some form of punishment that would deter aggressors from further breaches of the legislation and educate armed forces personnel to respect medical neutrality and the Geneva Convention, they say.
Editorial: Persisting trend in the breach of medical neutrality: a wake-up call to the international community

About the journal

BMJ Global Health is one of 60 specialist journals published by BMJ.


Related Healthcare Facilities Articles from Brightsurf:

SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in skilled nursing facilities
Researchers examined asymptomatic and presymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in a large multistate sample of U.S. skilled nursing facilities and variation in case counts by SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in the counties where facilities are located.

KIST addressing algal bloom in conventional water treatment facilities
An algal bloom refers to a phenomenon in which phytoplankton including blue-green algae rapidly proliferate in summer marked by high levels of solar irradiation and water temperature.

Women and men executives have differing perceptions of healthcare workplaces according to a survey report in the Journal of Healthcare Management
Healthcare organizations that can attract and retain talented women executives have the advantage over their peers, finds a special report in the September/October issue of the Journal of Healthcare Management, an official publication of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).

Patients with substance use disorder discriminated against by post-acute care facilities
A new study shows that 29 percent of private post-acute care facilities in Massachusetts explicitly discriminated against hospitalized individuals with opioid use disorder, rejecting their referral for admission.

Reducing radioactive waste in processes to dismantle nuclear facilities
Margarita Herranz, professor of nuclear engineering at the UPV/EHU, leads one of the working groups in the Europe H2020 INSIDER project.

Healthcare facilities rapidly adapt & refine practices based on new evidence & supply shortages
Healthcare epidemiologists report using unprecedented methods in response to the unique circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of a new study published today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA).

COVID-19 collaboration reduces infections in long-term care facilities
A collaborative program to battle COVID-19 in long-term care facilities is saving lives and offers a model for communities across the country, UVA doctors report.

Protecting the elderly in long-term care facilities from the risks of COVID-19
A new report calls for measures to protect elderly people in long-term care facilities and their caregivers who are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 infection prevention and control in long-term care facilities
Dr. John W. Rowe is a member of a WHO Expert Panel on Care of the Elderly which just released guidance for prevention and management of COVID-19 among elderly in long term care facilities.

Healthcare innovators focus on 'quality as a business strategy' -- update from Journal of Healthcare Quality
Despite two decades of effort -- targeting care processes, outcomes, and most recently the value of care - progress has been slow in closing the gap between quality and cost in the US healthcare system.

Read More: Healthcare Facilities News and Healthcare Facilities Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to