World Humanitarian Day: WHO Decries Attacks on Healthcare


Every year on 19 August, World Humanitarian Day 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.

Emergencies cause immense suffering for millions of people – usually the world’s poorest, most marginalized 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.

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.” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

According to Dr Tedros: The sanctity of healthcare, the right to healthcare, 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 healthcare, 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 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 health care.

Attacks on health too often mean that communities lose access to services at a time when they need them most. Reliable access to health care – especially for the most vulnerable – is vital to achieving universal health coverage and to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.

WHO seeks to ensure that:
• Health workers are protected and can provide health care in a safe and protected environment;
• Patients have access to health care when they need it most;
• Parties to conflict understand and uphold their responsibilities under International Humanitarian Law;
• Health care delivery is not disrupted by attacks; and
• All forms of violence against health care stop.