ACEM President Dr Simon Judkins said: “The protection of medical care in conflict has been enshrined in International Humanitarian Law as well as custom. This has enabled thousands of non-aligned medical staff and nurses to go in or near warzones to treat the inevitable casualties of war. Targeting medical facilities is a war crime. When health care providers are killed and medical facilities are destroyed, countless patients go untreated, at a time when they most need care.”
The issue of attacks on medical facilities in conflict zones was brought to the fore by several presentations during the DevelopingEM 2016 Sri Lanka conference.
A petition of the faculty and delegates at the 2016 conference recorded unanimous condemnation of past and ongoing attacks on health care facilities. At the suggestion of our friends and colleagues within the Sri Lankan Society of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine (SSCCEM) an attempt to crystallise the feelings of the faculty and delegates into a formal declaration was undertaken. The resultant Colombo Declaration was presented formally during the plenary session of the SLEMCON 2017 conference.
Read the declaration
Dr Judkins said: “We support the call that the rules of war protecting medical personnel and facilities are actually applied, and insist that when the rules are broken, the perpetrators accept the systems of reporting, investigation and punishment. This is the responsibility of every UN member state.
“The ACEM Board urges all members to visit www.stopbombinghospitals.org. Here you will find more information, an ‘Act Now’ page with more details on how you can help stop these hospital attacks including a letter pro forma that you can personalise to send to our political leaders and links to other organisations advocating for this cause.”