International Day of Peace 2020: Shaping Peace Together

International Day of Peace 2020: Shaping Peace Together

Since it was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly, each year the International Day of Peace is celebrated around the world on the 21st of September. The UN General  Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.(1) This year the theme is ”Shaping Peace Together” , but there is much more to sustaining Peace than just cease-fire. It depends on societies being inclusive, healthy and economically stable. A big factor in shaping peace is the protection of health services and the prevention of attacks on healthcare, since it remains a priority to ensure that each and everyone can enjoy their right to health.

What defines this year from others is the presence of a life threatening Pandemic which forced us to stop our violence actions. Nevertheless, Although it did succeed in reducing violence outdoors, It made the case worse for Healthcare. These incidents shed light on the Healthcare that has been and still is facing violence in different forms and the incidents  go unreported.

During emergencies, the delivery of health care is vital to the survival and longer-term well-being of affected populations. Health care is consistently identified by emergency-affected populations as among their top priorities for humanitarian assistance.Addressing health needs during emergencies not only saves lives, it can improve longer-term health outcomes and strengthen global health security.

The most disturbing challenge for health care providers during emergencies is when they themselves are the victims of attacks – real or threatened, targeted or indiscriminate. Yet we witness with alarming frequency a lack of respect for the sanctity of health care, for the right to health care, and for international humanitarian law: patients are shot in their hospital beds, medical personnel are threatened, intimidated or attacked, hospitals are bombed.

WHO defines an attack on health care as any act of verbal or physical violence or obstruction or threat of violence that interferes with the availability, access and delivery of curative and/or preventive health services during emergencies. The nature and types of attacks vary across contexts and can range from violence with heavy weapons to psychological threats and intimidation.

Such attacks not only endanger health care providers; they also deprive people of urgently needed care when they need it most. And while the consequences of such attacks are as yet largely undocumented, they are presumed to be significant – negatively affecting short-term health care delivery as well as the longer-term health and well-being of affected populations, health systems, the health workforce, and ultimately our global public health goals.

References:

  1. https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-day-peace
  2. https://www.who.int/activities/stopping-attacks-on-health-care