IntraHealth International Inc.(IntraHealth)
IntraHealth International believes everyone—especially refugees and migrants—deserves access to the health services they need to thrive. We commend the WHO for prioritizing the health of refugees and migrants in its universal health coverage goals and for preparing the new Draft Global Action Plan on this issue.
We are thankful the WHO recognizes that attacks on health care during conflict disrupt health services for refugees and migrants. These attacks are continuing around the world with impunity. According to a just-released report from the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, for which IntraHealth shares the secretariat, in 2018 there were at least 973 attacks on health in 23 countries around the world—a rise from the 701 reported attacks in 2017. At least 167 health workers died and 173 health facilities were damaged or destroyed in 2018. These attacks cause immediate suffering and deprive millions of people of access to essential health services, jeopardizing progress toward universal health coverage.
In 2018, the WHO launched its Surveillance System for Attacks on Healthcare, beginning with documenting attacks in six countries in conflict. The WHO should continue to develop this system. Member states should support the system’s further development, including expanding it to cover more countries in conflict, engaging in outreach to new potential partners to ensure it captures all attacks, and providing the WHO with the resources it needs.
In May 2016, the UN Security Council passed resolution 2286, which set out a road map to protect health in conflict and hold perpetrators accountable, but not nearly enough has been done to enforce and implement it. Member States must take greater action to ensure health workers are safe to provide essential health services to the 258 million migrants and 25 million refugees around the world.