WMA Council Resolution on Danger in Health Care in Syria and Bahrain

Adopted by the 191st WMA Council Session, Prague, April 2012

The WMA recognises that attacks on health care facilities, health care workers and patients are an increasingly common problem and the WMA Council denounces all such attacks in any country.

These often occur during armed conflict and also in other situations of violence, including protests against the state.  Patients, including those injured during protests, often come from the poorest and most marginalised parts of the community and suffer a higher proportion of serious health problems than those from wealthier backgrounds.

Governments have an obligation to ensure that health care facilities and those working in them can operate in safety and without interference either from state or non-state actors, and to protect those receiving care.

Where services are not available to patients due to government action or inaction, the government, not the health practitioners, should be held responsible.

Noting that recent and ongoing conflicts in Bahrain and Syria have seen physicians, other health care personnel and their patients attacked while in health care facilities, the WMA demands:

  1. That states fulfill their obligations to all their citizens and residents, including political protestors, patients and health care workers, and protect health care facilities and their occupants from interference, intimidation or attack.
  2. That governments enter into meaningful negotiations wherever such attacks are possible, likely or already occurring to stop the attacks and protect the institutions and their occupants, and
  3. That governments consider how they can contribute positively to the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross on promoting the safety of health care provision through awareness of the concepts within their project Health Care in Danger.