The Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition released its annual report in June 2020. It shows there were more than 1,200 violent attacks and threats against health workers, medical facilities and transports, and patients in 20 conflict-affected countries in 2019. At least 150 health workers were killed, 90 were kidnapped, and at least 500 more were injured as a result. This follows the trend of the 2018 report, illustrating that such attacks are continuing with impunity, undermining public health initiatives, and denying millions of people access to life-saving health services.
The Chair of the Coalition, RIAH project co-investigator Len Rubenstein, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has “shone light on the threats to and courage of health workers in dire circumstances” in his letter included in the report. “The experiences of health workers battling COVID-19 resemble, in an entirely different context, the dangers, shortages, and tough decisions health workers in conflicts face every day. Whether providing care in war or in a pandemic, health workers deserve protection, support, and solidarity. We must strengthen their protection, end impunity, and express solidarity with all on the front lines of health care, wherever they are”.
On Wednesday, June 10, Physicians for Human Rights hosted a briefing event to mark the launch of the report, with featured speakers including Len Rubenstein and Christina Wille of the RIAH project consortium.