Strengthening Data to Protect Healthcare in Conflict Zones: Toward the Implementation of UN Commitments

Event Video 

Over the past two decades, attacks on healthcare in situations of armed conflict have been reported at alarming levels. By collecting data on these attacks, states can better understand the scale and scope of the problem, protect health services and workers, and prevent future attacks.

On December 1st, IPI with the support of the Government of Spain, cohosted an event on “Strengthening Data to Protect Healthcare in Conflict Zones: Toward the Implementation of UN Commitments.” The policy forum provided an opportunity to discuss IPI’s new issue brief entitled “Strengthening Data to Protect Healthcare in Conflict Zones” co-authored by Susannah Sirkin and Rohini Haar, including their recommendations on ways to better use existing data-collection methods and mechanisms to prevent and protect against attacks on medical care in armed conflict.

The forum brought together representatives of UN agencies, humanitarian organizations, member states, and civil society organizations to discuss some of the policy and technical challenges related to collecting robust data on attacks against healthcare in armed conflict. It also reflected on ways to strengthen data collection and reporting with the goal of enhancing prevention and protection. “Acknowledging and reporting the violence is a first and necessary step to preventing violence,” said Susannah Sirkin, co-author of the report. Panelists also emphasized the importance of publishing data as an accountability measure. “There is no strong evidence that the publication of data detailing attacks on health care facilities results in increased security risks,” explained Leonard Rubenstein, Chair of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition.

Speakers further considered opportunities to address policy and technical challenges and examined how improved data collection may build on existing data processes, including the World Health Organization’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Healthcare and the work of the Safeguarding Health and Conflict Coalition and Insecurity Insight.

Opening remarks:
Adam Lupel, Vice-President and COO, International Peace Institute
H.E. Agustín Santos Maraver, Permanent Representative of Spain to the UN

Rohini Haar, Adjunct Professor, University of California, Berkeley, practicing emergency medicine physician, and co-author of the report
Susannah Sirkin, Independent Consultant and co-author of the report
Hyo Jeong Kim, Technical Officer, Attacks on Health Care initiative, World Health Organization Emergency Programme
Maciej Polkowski, Head, Health Care in Danger Initiative, International Committee of the Red Cross
Leonard Rubenstein, Chair, Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition
Tobijo Denis Sokiri Moses, Technical Advisor, The Rescue Initiative-South Sudan

Agathe Sarfati, Senior Policy Analyst, International Peace Institute