On Monday 25 January 2021, The Lancet published a four-paper Series underlining the extensive impacts of armed conflicts on the health of women and children. The increasingly protracted nature of modern warfare undermines humanitarian access and affects the delivery of healthcare to an estimated 630 million women and children globally.
“The new estimates provide compelling evidence of the enormous indirect toll of modern warfare caused by easily preventable infectious diseases, malnutrition, sexual violence, and poor mental health, as well as the destruction of basic services such as water and medical facilities", says Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta from the Centre for Global Child Health, The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in Canada and the Institute for Global Heath & Development, The Aga Khan University, who led the Series.
The series, authored by the BRANCH (Bridging Research & Action in Conflict Settings for the Health of Women & Children) consortium, includes co-authors from the Center for Research on Population and Health (CRPH), Faculty of health Sciences (FHS) at the American University of Beirut (AUB), and uses data from a case study on Syria, published in 2020 in the journal Conflict and Health.
The Series papers explore the short and long-term effects of the changing nature of war and conflict on maternal and child health. They also identify proven interventions to support healthcare delivery using evidence from ten country case studies.
“It is clear that the indirect effects of armed conflict on women and children are far greater than the effects of actual fighting", says Series co-author Dr Hala Ghattas, CRPH Director. “But the reality could be much worse. Insecurity and insufficient resources mean data are often scarce and of poor quality. Far greater investment in strengthening data collection and collaboration between humanitarian agencies and local authorities is needed to generate better, more readily available and actionable information to improve the response in humanitarian crises."
The papers emphasize shortfalls in the prioritization of women's and children's health in areas affected by conflict, and call for a commitment from the international community to address political and security challenges, and agree on a framework to identify high-priority interventions to reach the most vulnerable women and children with the best care possible.
To read the full series, please cilck HERE.