Attacks on health facilities and health workers in Syria are likely more common than previously reported, and local data collectors can help researchers more accurately measure the extent and frequency of these attacks, according to a new study published recently in PLOS Medicine.
Violent attacks on hospitals, ambulances, health workers, and patients in conflict areas are grave violations of international humanitarian law and can cripple health systems during the time they are needed most. Documenting these attacks is important to identify strategies to keep patients and healthcare workers safe, influence policy, and promote justice. However, a systematic and consistent method for verifying and quantifying these acts has been lacking.
In this new study, Dr. Rohini Haar of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, Mr. Leonard Rubenstein of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues at the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) developed a standardized reporting tool available on mobile phones to verify field reports and count attacks on medical providers and facilities.