News / Africa

    Report Says Health Workers Are Targets

    A Pakistani health worker gives a polio vaccine to a child in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Pakistan’s health minister says the country is taking extra ordinary measures to meet the new situation it is going to face after polio travel restri
    A Pakistani health worker gives a polio vaccine to a child in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Pakistan’s health minister says the country is taking extra ordinary measures to meet the new situation it is going to face after polio travel restri

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • Listen to De Capua report on attacks on health workers

    Joe DeCapua
    Health workers are frequently becoming targets in countries undergoing conflict or civil unrest. A new report says since 2012, hundreds have been attacked in dozens of countries.Human Rights Watch and the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition jointly issued the report called Under Attack.
     
    Listen to De Capua report on attacks on health workers
    Listen to De Capua report on attacks on health workersi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Joe Amon, HRW’s health and human rights director, “Well, there’s been an increasing number of attacks against health workers, against patients and against health facilities. And this is occurring really globally. We’ve seen it in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. And it’s really something that needs broader attention and really a vigorous response.”
     
    The attacks include the killing of 70 polio vaccination workers in Pakistan and Nigeria. The report also accuses opposition forces in South Sudan of shooting patients, as well as looting and burning hospitals and clinics in Bentiu, Malakal and Bor.
     
    “It’s clear that in some cases people are deliberately targeting health workers. They’re seen as providing care to the opposition, instead of being seen as neutral medical providers. In other cases they may be in a crossfire, but it’s interrupting and really destabilizing critical health services for civilians in these settings,” he said.
     
    The report listed dozens of attacks, killings and abductions of health workers in Afghanistan. It said the country now has a shortage of qualified women providing medical care.
     
    Amon dave other examples of growing danger. 
     
    “We’re also seeing attacks in Turkey and Bahrain, for example, doctors being arrested and detained for providing care. It’s a phenomenon that’s of real concern. And I think the severity of the attacks is also increasing.”
     
    The attacks have caused some hospitals and clinics to shut down.
     
    “In some cases, yes,” said Amon,  “In Somalia and Central African Republic, that’s definitely occurred. And when that happens, it can leave thousands of people without any access to health care at all.”
     
    The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders closed its hospital in the northern CAR town of Boguila. That followed an attack on April 26th.  Sixteen civilians were killed, including three of the group’s employees.
     
    The Human Rights Watch official said a number of things can be done to protect health workers.
     
    “One is we need more information when attacks occur. We need to get better security for health workers in these places. Countries that have criminalized the provision of care to protesters need to repeal those laws. And there needs to be general respect for the idea that medical providers are providing care without regard to politics -- and that they should be left out of conflict settings and not targeted at all.”
     
    Amon said the international community can also do more.
     
    “Next week, ministers [of] health from around the world are meeting in Geneva. And one of the things they’ll be looking at is a resolution from two years ago that they passed to do more on this issue -- to do more surveillance of the issue and to do more response for it. I think clearly the Human Rights Council, the ministers of health from these countries, the WHO, other agencies, can say that this is a real priority. These kinds of attacks undermine the basic security of access to health care that people need,” he said.
     
    The health ministers will meet from May 19th through the 24th.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.