In 2014 alone, 603 health workers were killed and 958 injured in such attacks in 32 countries, according to data compiled by the WHO from a range of sources.
Attacks on hospitals and clinics in conflict situations are just one of the threats health workers face. During West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, a team of 8 people trying to raise awareness about the outbreak were killed in Guinea amid a climate of fear and suspicion. More than 400 health workers also lost their lives after becoming infected while treating Ebola patients. In October, a Doctors Without Borders hospital was bombed in Syria.
Until now, there has been no standard way of reporting attacks against health workers and to address that need WHO has developed a new system for collecting data that is being tested in Central African Republic, Syrian Arab Republic and West Bank and Gaza Strip.
It will be available for use early next year. But the project doesn’t only aim to collect data. It also plans to use the information to identify patterns and find ways to avoid attacks or mitigate their consequences.
In 2016, the WHO’s first global report on attacks against health will be published.