Attacks on Health Care

Surveillance System of Attacks on Healthcare (SSA)

The SSA is a global standardized and systemic approach to collecting data of attacks on health care. This system utilizes the same methodology across countries to address the knowledge gap of the extent and nature of attacks on health care.

Attacks on health care project

Through this project, WHO formalizes and strengthens its efforts to minimize disruptions to health care due to violence, and intensifies its collaboration with key Member States and partners that have been instrumental in moving this issue to center stage.

Even one attack on health care is too many

WHO data from 2017 show that attacks on health facilities, health workers and ambulances continue with alarming frequency. These attacks have direct consequences for health service delivery, depriving people of often urgently needed care.

Health worker holds up a sign reading

Health workers are not a target.

August 2017 - Last year 418 people died because health facilities were attacked. The impact of this kind of an attack is felt from families to communities and entire health systems. Every hospital destroyed and every health worker killed or injured takes years of health services away from the people who need them most. Stop attacks on health care.


World Humanitarian Day

August 2017 - This World Humanitarian Day, we come together in solidarity with the millions of people caught in armed conflict. Civilians and health workers are #NotATarget. Even as humanitarian workers deliver aid, and health workers treat the wounded and sick, theya re directly targeted, treated as threats and unlawfully prevented from bringing relief and care to those in desperate need.

Libya: Rising health worker abductions in Libya threaten fragile health system

21 December 2017, Sabha, Libya – When Dr Ahmad*, a surgeon at Sabha Medical Centre, was kidnapped in November by an unknown group, his colleagues decided to act. Dr Ahmad was the second health worker to be kidnapped within months in the town of 100 000 people. On 18 November, all non-essential health services at Sabha Medical Centre, the biggest hospital in southern Libya, were suspended for 10 days.


Attack on vaccines sets back immunization efforts in eastern Syrian Arab Republic

13 October 2017 - WHO has received reports of an attack on medical facilities in eastern Syrian Arab Republic that has destroyed the only vaccines cold room in al-Mayadeen district, Deir Ezzor Governorate. More than 100,000 doses of measles vaccines and 35,000 doses of polio vaccines were stored in these facilities, alongside equipment, syringes, and stocks for all vaccine-preventable childhood diseases.

UNICEF/2013 Omar Sanadiki

fact buffet


Health care is under attack. The sanctity of health care, the right to health care, and international humanitarian law are threatened: patients are shot in their hospital beds, medical personnel are menaced or attacked, facilities are bombed, depriving people of urgently needed care, endangering health care providers, undermining health systems and long term public health goals, and contributing to the deterioration in the health and wellbeing of affected populations.


The vision of this project is that essential life-saving health services are provided to emergency-affected populations unhindered by any form of violence or obstruction.

WHO seeks to ensure that:

• Health workers are protected and can provide health care in a safe and protected environment;
• Patients have access to health care when they need it most
• Parties to conflict understand and uphold their responsibilities under International Humanitarian Law;
• Health care delivery is not disrupted by attacks; and
• All forms of violence against health care stop.


• Develop a body of evidence to better understand the extent and nature of the problem and its consequences to health care delivery;
• Increase commitments to action by all relevant parties through strong advocacy for an end to attacks on health care, respect the sanctity of health care in all circumstances, the delivery of health care unhindered by violence, and the application of International Humanitarian Law; and
• Develop and promote the implementation of best practices for the prevention of attacks and the mitigation of their consequences to health service delivery

Reports and statistics

WHO: Stop the attacks on health care