Principal Investigator: Rohini Haar, University of California at Berkeley
This mixed-methods study found that airstrikes on Syrian hospitals have deep, severe impacts on the health system, on service utilisation, and on the health workforce that may be irreversible.
This study sought to understand the nature and severity of impacts of attacks on medical facilities and personnel in Syria. It aimed investigate the impacts on availability and utilisation of services as well as on health outcomes. It addresses a critical topic: the intermediate and long-term effects of bombing health clinics on the community’s health is largely unknown, and the numbers of these attacks has risen globally.
Using a multi-disciplinary, mixed-methods approach the study conducted:
Attacks on hospitals are a violation of international humanitarian law. But they are also a deep and long-term attack on public health. It is critical to understand and better address the true impact of these attacks on health systems and health outcomes. In Syria where the attacks have been so egregious, this information can assist in advocacy, policy change, accountability and vitally, in programs that address specifically how these attacks impact health
Violent attacks have devastating impacts on health systems, patients, and communities that may never be reversed. Responses must be multi-faceted, considering the complex impacts of attacks on every level of the health system. Increased international resources are needed to address attacks and mitigate their impacts. Deprioritising the Syrian crisis will lead to severe and exacerbated needs in the long term. Halting violent attacks, and holding perpetrators accountable, must remain an international priority.
Findings on financial instability resulting from attacks highlighted that international decision-making tended to allocate resources “top-down”, possibly worsening systemic impacts of attacks through resource misallocation. Local stakeholders should be consulted to improve response effectiveness and resource targeting.
The resistance and solidarity among health workers suggests that bolstering support for the workforce would be a good investment, helping to strengthen ongoing services and community based responses.
It is hoped the findings will further inform health service programme planning and preparedness in conflict and post-conflict Syria, and present a model for monitoring public health vulnerabilities stemming from attacks on health in other contexts.
Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, Dr. Naser Almhawish and Dr. Rohini Haar co-authored this opinion piece featured in Devex. Drawing on their own experiences as healthcare workers on the frontline, they make the case for accountability in the Syrian crisis.View
In this blog, featured on Elrha's Medium for World Health Day, members of the study team reflect on the scale of violence against healthcare workers. They highlight the importance of both documenting these attacks and understanding their impact.View
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