WHO condemns violence against health workers in Iraq

Baghdad, 26 February 2019 – The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly condemns the recent attack on a medical practitioner who was physically assaulted while providing medical care to a critically ill 70-year old female in Azadi Teaching Hospital in the Kirkuk governorate on 18 February 2019.

“WHO calls on the authorities in Iraq to ensure the safety of health workers, health facilities, and the sanctity of health care,” said Dr Adham Rashad Ismail, acting WHO Representative in Iraq. “Such attacks constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law and deprive the most vulnerable population of children, women and the elderly of their right to essential health services,” he added.

Health care workers and health facilities in Iraq have been under attack since the crisis escalated in June 2014. In 2018 alone, 42 attacks on health care were recorded by WHO in Iraq, of which 40% were against health workers.

As people in Iraq, including displaced populations, host communities and returnees continue to require essential, lifesaving, and trauma services, it is imperative that the Government of Iraq ensures that health workers are allowed to work at all times without risk, regardless of location, and that patients and health facilities are protected.