An editorial in The Lancet: A medical crisis in Syria. Excerpt:
A disturbing feature of modern conflicts and, indeed, the Arab uprisings, has been the flagrant disregard for the Geneva Conventions, including targeting of civilians, persecution of health workers, and attacks on hospitals, alongside the failure of the UN system to prevent these violations.
The medical community may feel hopelessness in the face of these seemingly intractable situations. But there is much that it can do to monitor, report, and prevent the impact of conflict on the health of populations, as well as condemning attacks on civilians and breaches of medical neutrality.
The Lancet hopes to publish its first Series on conflict and health next year to advance knowledge in this area. In 2010, we published a special issue on violent conflict and health to coincide with one of the first major international conferences on the subject with multidisciplinary and global representation organised by Global Doctors and partners. The conference concluded that health professionals have a positive part to play not only during and after conflicts but also before them.
However, the meeting also noted that common causes of and links between violent conflict and ill health are complex and poorly studied at present. And further research and standardisation is needed to achieve credible estimates of the health consequences in violent conflicts.