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ICRC Campaign Addresses Humanitarian Issue Of Health Care Security In Conflict Situations

“This week the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launches a global campaign – ‘It’s a matter of life and death’ – which aims to improve security and delivery of effective and impartial health care in situations of armed conflict and other contexts of widespread violence,” Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the British Medical Association, writes in a BMJ editorial.  

Nathanson calls the campaign “timely” and writes that “[e]vents in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere make it clear that when people take up arms for whatever reason, violence perpetrated against health care facilities and personnel is all too common.” She continues, “In such contexts, health care is often suspended, withdrawn, or impossible. In a study of violent events affecting health care, the ICRC makes the case … that insecurity of health care is one of the biggest, most immediate, and yet unrecognized humanitarian problems in today’s conflicts” (8/10).