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Health Workers may be among the first to be targeted in active conflict; for example, in Syria, the provision of medical care was criminalised early in the conflict leaving many health workers subject to arrest and torture; more than 900 have been killed, mostly by the Syrian government and its allies. In Myanmar, many doctors refused to work in public hospitals (which fell under the control of the military) after the February 2021 military coup as part of a civil disobedience movement in response to the widespread human rights abuses committed by the Myanmar military and security forces; this put them at risk of arrest and targeting. In Tigray, a crisis which garners little media attention, attacks on doctors by militias (as well as the looting and destruction of health facilities) have occurred in a brutal and under-reported conflict. There have been numerous reports of SGBV (sexual and gender-based violence) with long-lasting consequences on women and communities. Health workers in Ukraine where deliberate attacks by Russia on hospitals, (including of children and maternity hospitals) have been reported since hostilities escalated on the 24th February 2022; many have been forced to remain in health facilities to respond to the influx of patients as attacks continue and escalate. Across these conflicts, health workers face the catastrophic consequences of conflict that the general population face, while also bearing the burden of responsibility for civilians as the health systems collapse around them.

April 2022 saw World Health Worker Week. In this webinar, we hear from frontline health workers and
experts from these different contexts which have been affected by attacks on health workers in different
ways. We hear how health workers elsewhere can support and what can be done in the face of such
violations in International Humanitarian Law.

With thanks on behalf of the organising groups:
David Nott Foundation
Health Professionals for Global Health, UK
International Child Health Group,
Physicians for Human Rights
Research for Health System Strengthening in North Syria/ King’s College, London
Syrian American Medical Society
Syria Public Health Network
Women in Global Health, UK


Elly Nott (PhD candidate, King’s College; David Nott Foundation)

Our speakers include:

Professor Len Rubenstein (Johns Hopkins University)
Overview and Ukraine
Author of Perilous Medicine, the struggle to protect health care from the violence of war

Dr Hailay Gesesew (Torrens University, Mekelle University)

Dr Thinn Thinn Hlaing (THET)

Dr Houssam AlNahhas (Syria Public Health Network, Physicians for Human Rights)
Firsthand experiences in Syria

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