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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/15/22

No #HealthForAll without peace: Attack on healthcare facilities is war crime, must stop

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No #HealthForAll without peace: Attack on healthcare facilities is war crime, must stop

BOBBY RAMAKANT - CNS

War must end. Peace is the only way forward for resolving conflicts and to deliver on every goal and target of SDGs. No health without peace
War must end. Peace is the only way forward for resolving conflicts and to deliver on every goal and target of SDGs. No health without peace
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Slogans like 'every life matters' sound so cliche'd and hollow when we see the ground reality in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia armed conflict: healthcare workers, healthcare facilities and transport are getting mercilessly attacked causing immediate and long-term damages as well as menacingly threatening the progress made on right to health in the past decades. Former Secretary General of the United Nations had condemned attacks on hospitals as war crimes.

In 2016, the United Nations Security Council had unanimously adopted resolution number 2286 strongly condemning attacks against medical facilities, transport, and personnel in conflict situations. Back then, governments had strongly condemned attacks and threats against the wounded and sick, medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the United Nations health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO), said last week: "So far, WHO has verified 18 attacks on health facilities, health workers and ambulances, including ten deaths and 16 injuries. These attacks deprive whole communities of healthcare. More than two million people have left Ukraine and WHO is supporting neighbouring countries to provide healthcare for refugees, most of whom are women and children. Some of the main health challenges we see are hypothermia and frostbite, respiratory diseases, lack of treatment for cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and mental health issues."

There are approximately 1,000 healthcare facilities that are becoming engulfed in the Ukraine-Russia armed conflict, confirmed Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme. These healthcare facilities include hospitals, clinics, polyclinics and other healthcare delivery entities--either on the frontline or within ten kilometres of the frontline.

Some healthcare facilities are being abandoned by the authorities because they simply cannot function in this crisis situation. In some situations, there are attempts to move hospital equipment and healthcare workers around. "This is becoming an extremely complex health response with frequent population movements, shifting lines of control, increasingly difficult access and very asymmetric type of warfare," said Dr Ryan.

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