Physicians in Distress

Supporting Physicians and Patients in Danger


In recent years, there has been a worrying trend of physicians being tortured and/or persecuted by dictatorial regimes or terrorist groups. Similarly, access to health care by detainees in need is sometimes obstructed deliberately by detention authorities, amounting to a form of degrading treatment or torture.

Hospitals and other medical facilities are increasingly being attacked and misused during wars and armed conflicts. Consequently, patients and medical personnel are killed or wounded.

The World Medical Association (WMA) condemns without reservation these abuses that constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. It also works with other health, humanitarian and human rights organisations, creating alliances to combine strengths and to advocate for the highest possible standards of health for all people. Since 2012, the WMA has been a member of the Health Care in Danger Project (HCiD) led by the ICRC.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, global organisations have joined their voices in a call for protection of healthcare workers from violence: 13 medical and humanitarian global organizations representing more than 30 million healthcare professionals have issued a declaration condemning increasing incidents of attacks against health workers and facilities.