Violence against patients and health-care workers is one of the most crucial yet overlooked humanitarian issues today. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement runs a global campaign aiming to improve security and delivery of impartial and efficient health care in armed conflict and other emergencies.
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In countries affected by armed violence, the greatest problem concerning health care is the inability of the wounded or sick to obtain it. Causes include a lack of security, night-time curfews or restrictions imposed by warring parties on the work of aid organizations. Ambulances can be deliberately prevented from reaching wounded people or held up for hours at checkpoints. Security measures can also involve heavy administrative procedures, which can threaten the lives and well-being of the wounded and sick.
The reasons for the closure of rural health centres and clinics in conflict-riven Afghanistan are many and varied. Violations of international humanitarian law are high on the list, with patients delayed or prevented from reaching hospital, medical personnel harassed or kidnapped, and facilities used for purposes other than health care.
Amongst the ruins of the health infrastructure due to the war Somalia, local health workers are struggling to provide emergency medical services. The photographer Andre Liohn filmed one of the few ambulance teams working on the ground.
As the fighting continues to rage across different parts of Syria, causing hundreds of casualties every day, the timely evacuation of the dead and the wounded is becoming a daily challenge in the areas hardest hit.
Months of conflict in the Central African Republic have had a severe impact on the population.
Dozens of people are dying every day because of limited access to proper health-care services and shortages of essential medical supplies. The ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are doing their utmost to help save lives by donating much-needed supplies throughout the country.
In the Gaza Strip, the shortage of essential medical supplies is a major problem for thousands of desperate patients, especially those with kidney failure or cancer.
Four decades of conflict in southern Colombia have made health care a rare commodity on the Rio Caguan. An ICRC delegate explains his work taking mobile health clinics along the river to thousands of villagers who would otherwise be cut off from medical care.