May 30, 2012
At the 65th session of the World Health Assembly last week, an important resolution was adopted on WHO leadership in collecting and disseminating data on attacks on health care in complex humanitarian emergencies.
Health providers are on the frontline during complex humanitarian emergencies. They, as well as their patients, deserve protection. However, in situations of crisis and armed conflictt, health-care workers are at greatest risk of assault, arrest, obstruction of their duties, kidnapping and death. Health facilities and ambulances are also at risk of attack.
Complex humanitarian emergencies
Resolution (EB130.R14) is titled WHO’s response, and role as the health cluster lead, in meeting the growing demands of health in humanitarian emergencies. Among others, this resolution states “that there is a need of systematic data collection on attacks or lack of respect for patients and/or health workers, facilities and transports in complex humanitarian emergencies.”
The resolution thus calls on the Director-General of WHO: “… to provide leadership at the global level in developing methods for systematic collection and dissemination of data on attacks on health facilities, health workers, health transports, and patients in complex humanitarian emergencies, in coordination with other relevant United Nations bodies, other relevant actors, and intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, avoiding duplication of efforts.”