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Doctors under attack: recent examples

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During the recent Israeli assault on Gaza there were numerous attacks on ambulances and medical facilities in which at least five medical staff were killed in the line of duty, and dozens were injured.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported on 2 August that a third of Gaza’s hospitals, 14 primary health care clinics and 29 Red Crescent and Ministry of Health ambulances were damaged in the first three weeks of fighting alone, creating what it described as a “health disaster of widespread proportions”.

“At least 40 per cent of medical staff are unable to get to their places of work, such as clinics and hospitals, due to widespread violence, and at least half of all public health primary care clinics are closed,” the UN agency said.

In all, three Gaza hospitals – al-Shifa, al-Aqsa and Wafa – were destroyed or damaged by explosions during the conflict, killing and maiming patients and medical staff and reducing access to vital medical care, while a fourth, Najjar, was evacuated.

West Africa

Several health workers have been killed and injured by angry and fearful mobs in parts of Guinea as they have worked to try and contain the worst Ebola outbreak on record.

In the deadliest incident, a delegation that included health workers, three journalists and a local politician were set upon after arriving at a village to distribute information about the deadly disease. Eight were killed in the attack, and their bodies dumped in a latrine.

Other health workers battling the disease have been assaulted or shunned by their communities.

Adrian Rollins