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WHO condemns attacks on health facilities in Iraq

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21 June 2014, Erbil, Iraq – WHO strongly condemns the attacks on health facilities in Iraq and expresses concern about the serious implications of these attacks on medical personnel, patients and health infrastructure.

Two hospitals in and around Mosul in northern Iraq have been damaged as a result of heavy shelling. These hospitals are located in areas where violence is ongoing and where populations need urgent access to health services. Earlier this week, Médecins Sans Frontières reported that its clinic in Tikrit was severely damaged as a result of the shelling of the city, preventing the provision of medical care to approximately 40 000 people displaced by the conflict.

In times of crisis, it is vital that health facilities continue to function and medical staff are allowed to safely provide medical care to patients without any risk.

WHO emphasizes obligations under international humanitarian law and Geneva conventions for the protection of civilians, health facilities and health professionals during conflict. Health facilities must be treated as neutral premises and never be exploited for military purposes.

WHO calls on all parties involved in the conflict to take the necessary measures to ensure protection for health personnel, patients, and facilities, and that patients are guaranteed their basic right to health without further endangerment to their lives.

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The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols

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Key health-related statistics

Total population (000s) 37 140
Total health expenditure on health (% of general government expenditure) 6.5
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) 50
Number of primary health care units and centres (per 10 000 population) 0.7
Total life expectancy at birth (years) 69.8

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

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