World Health & Population

World Health & Population 16(4) June 2016 : 38-42.doi:10.12927/whp.2016.24674
Special Focus: Attacks On Healthcare Workers In War Zones

To Stay or Go? The Complexities of Providing Healthcare in Insecure Environments

Larissa Fast and Christina Wille

On June 17, 2014, an aerial attack on a Sudanese village severely damaged a hospital operated by the international medical humanitarian organization Médécins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the war-affected region of South Kordofan (MSF 2014). The bombs injured a staff member and destroyed the emergency room, the pharmacy and the hospital kitchen. Hospitalized patients had to be evacuated (MSF 2014). On January 20, 2015, a cluster of 13 bombs was dropped on the same hospital. Two landed within the hospital compound and injured a staff member and a patient. Others struck just outside the hospital compound (MSF 2015). After the first incident, MSF continued to work in the damaged premises but reported that the bombing had hampered the effectiveness of its work (MSF 2014). After the second bombing, the organization suspended its work. The second incident caused limited physical damage to the hospital, but MSF halted activities to avoid putting staff and patients at risk (MSF 2015). In West Africa, Red Cross and other healthcare providers working to educate and provide care in Ebola-affected communities were attacked and killed, exacerbating the challenges of eradicating the virus that has taken more than 10,000 lives (Izadi 2014). These examples illustrate how many healthcare providers are compelled to withdraw or temporarily close their programs when violence intensifies. This has devastating consequences for the civilian populations who often have few available alternative healthcare options. 

 

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