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Table of Contents   
EDITORIAL COMMENTARY  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 1113-1114
Developing a mechanism to reduce after effects and track health workers affected by terrorism


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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Date of Web Publication6-Nov-2017
 

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Developing a mechanism to reduce after effects and track health workers affected by terrorism. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:1113-4

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Developing a mechanism to reduce after effects and track health workers affected by terrorism. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2018 May 22];10:1113-4. Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/5/1113/217536


Dear Editor,

Terrorism is a global cause of public health concern and has been acknowledged as a constant international threat owing to the increase in the number of terrorist activities in the last decade.[1] The health sector, both public and private, has an immense role in developing an emergency response in terms of providing trauma-related care or relief or rehabilitation services.[1],[2] However, the terrorist activities against the health sector itself can significantly jeopardize the overall healthcare delivery system as not only the emergency but also the routine activities are compromised.[2],[3]

Although the exact distribution cannot be specified, the healthcare professionals, right from Ukraine till Afghanistan, have been exposed to various terrorist attacks.[4] In fact, in the year 2014 alone, in excess of 600 health workers were killed, while close to 1000 were injured across the affected nations.[4] Further, it will not be wrong to say that most of the estimates or resulting consequences (as loss of health workers/services/facilities leads to reduced care for the general population, and a further increase in the sufferings of people caused by the man-made disasters) are not precise and often underreported in low- and middle-income nations.[2],[3],[4]

Moreover, in the span of less than 2 months itself, two separate terrorist attacks on healthcare establishments have been reported in Afghanistan and Yemen, accounting for the death of 14 health workers and casualties in another 39 of them together, while leaving almost 0.2 million people with no access to life-saving medical care in Yemen alone.[5],[6] In addition, health workers who are working in the conflict-affected nations, especially Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, have continued to receive life threats.[4],[5],[6] It is a great cause of concern as these attacks are not only a form of serious violation of international humanitarian law but also targeted against the health workers or health facilities, which are neutral and hence there is no need for all the parties involved in the conflict to endanger their safety.[1],[3]

Acknowledging the importance of saving the lives of health workers, maintenance of the integrity of the healthcare facilities in the conflict-affected nations, and dearth of a comprehensive mechanism to have precise estimates of attack against health workers, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a newer tracking system to collect data and has been piloted in various African nations.[4] The proposed tracking system, which will be put into use from 2016, also aims to use the collected information to ascertain any specific pattern of events and even devise innovative measures to prevent similar such attacks (like changing the duration or the timings of polio campaigns in Pakistan) or even reduce their after effects (prepare a master plan to encourage prompt evacuation of hospitals or have a backup for resources/logistics to resume functioning again at the earliest).[4]

Furthermore, the WHO and United Nations have repeatedly advocated for the strengthening of international efforts to ensure the safety of health personnel, whether in armed conflict or in times of peace; implementation of additional measures for protection of health workers in high-risk regions; and envisaging the commitment of the involved parties to adhere to international law and respect the neutral status of health workers.[4],[5],[6] In addition, there is enormous scope to improve the coordination in trauma management and strengthening of the health infrastructure to upgrade the quality of care.[3]

To conclude, in the absence of health workers, there can be no health care, and thus it is the responsibility of all the concerned stakeholders to protect the health personnel and health facilities from terrorist attacks in the coming years for the benefit of the general population.

Acknowledgements

SRS contributed in the conception or design of the work, drafting of the work, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

PSS contributed in the literature review, revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

JR contributed in revising the draft, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

1.
Wang DW, Liu Y, Jiang MM. Review on emergency medical response against terrorist attack. Mil Med Res 2014;1:9.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]    
2.
Stene LE, Dyb G. Health service utilization after terrorism: a longitudinal study of survivors of the 2011 Utøya attack in Norway. BMC Health Serv Res 2015;15:158.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Alfa-Wali M, Sritharan K, Mehes M, Abdullah F, Rasheed S. Terrorism-related trauma in Africa, an increasing problem. J Epidemiol Glob Health 2015;5:201-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]    
4.
World Health Organization. Tracking attacks on health workers-Don't let them go unnoticed; 2015. Available from: http://who.int/features/2015/healthworkers-in-emergencies/en/ [Last accessed on 2016 Aug 22]  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
World Health Organization. WHO deplores bombing of MSF clinic in Kunduz; 2015. Available from: http://who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2015/kunduz-bombing/en/ [Last accessed on 2016 Aug 22].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
World Health Organization. WHO condemns attack on MSF hospital in Yemen; 2015. Available from: http://who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2015/msf-hospital-yemen/en/. [Last accessed on 2016 Aug 22]  Back to cited text no. 6
    

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Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur, Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.217536

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