Challenge of the world order and its implications for health personnel
© Mirzaei and Knoll; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2003
Received: 16 July 2003
Accepted: 23 July 2003
Published: 23 July 2003
Non-governmental medical organizations, including amnesty international medical groups, Physicians for Human Rights, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), have for years tried to forge a link between health and peace. Undermining of the rights and dignity of people creates implication for the health of the community and for the responsibilities of its health workers.
These efforts need more fundamental support. The unfolding of a "new world order" can stimulate fresh thinking on a variety of important issues. The Global Burden of Disease Study  predicts war will reach the list of 10 most frequent causes of loss of disability-adjusted life-years by the year 2020. But, despite the growing number of armed conflicts throughout the world, not enough attention has been paid to the local patterns of distress and the long-term health impact and psychosocial consequences of political violence against individuals or communities . It has to be emphasized that 90% of all deaths related to recent wars were among civilians . Further, war has also indirect consequences including damage to the social fabric and infrastructure of the society, displacement of people, damage to the environment and fostering of a culture of violence . In complex emergencies, public health activities have been shown to promote peace, prevent violence and reconcile enemies .
We propose the establishment of institutionalized partnerships between non-government organizations, such as those mentioned above, and individual medical societies in order to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and to recognize societies at risk for instability and violence. Every national physicians' organization should establish a position responsible for human rights – protected by political immunity, and should issue regular reports to representative international bodies. We agree most warmly with Mac Queen  on the unique contributions health workers can contribute to peace-making.
Finally, we should expect that the training of physicians include a serious study of ethics and human rights, as well as acquisition of the skills to deal with conflict and the therapeutic implications of trauma, both physical and mental.
- Alternative projections of mortality and disability by cause 1990–2020: Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet. 1997, 349: 1498-504. 10.1016/S0140-6736(96)07492-2.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Pedersen D: Political violence, ethnic conflict, and contemporary wars: broad implications for health and social well-being. Soc Sci Med. 2002, 55: 175-190. 10.1016/S0277-9536(01)00261-1.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
- Levy BS: Health and peace. Croat Med J. 2002, 43: 114-116.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- Grademann J: Primary health care in complex humanitarian emergencies: Rwanda and Kosovo experiences and their implications for public health training. Croat Med J. 2002, 43: 148-155.Google Scholar
- MacQueen G, Santa-Barbara J, Neufeld V, Yusuf S, Horton R: Health and peace: time for a new discipline. Lancet. 2001, 357: 1460-1. 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)04668-7.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original URL.