The wars in the Middle East have led to unprecedented threats and attacks on patients, healthcare workers, and purposeful targeting of hospitals and medical facilities. It is crucial that every healthcare provider, both civilian and military, on either side of the conflict become aware of the unique and inherent protections afforded to them under International Humanitarian Law. However, these protections come with obligations. Whereas Governments must guarantee these protections, when violated, medical providers have equal duty and obligations under the Law to ensure that they will neither commit nor assist in these violations nor take part in any act of hostility. Healthcare providers must not allow any inhuman or degrading treatment of which they are aware and must report such actions to the appropriate authorities. Failure to do so leads to risks of moral, ethical and legal consequences as well as penalties for their actions and inactions. There must be immediate recognition by all parties of the neutrality of health care workers and their rights and responsibilities to care for any sick and injured patient, regardless of their nationality, race, religion, or political point of view.
Institution: McGill University
Department: Humanitarian Studies Initiative
Dr. Kirsten Johnson practices Emergency Medicine at McGill University's Health Centres and she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Her research has focused on genocide, child combatants, sexual gender-based violence and conflict-related mental health and psychosocial support. As CEO of Humanitarian U, she is involved in humanitarian professionalization, working on the development of competencies and standards for the training, education and certification of humanitarian responders globally. In 2010, Dr. Johnson was awarded the Segal Centre’s Januscz Korczak award for her work on protecting the rights of children in conflict and the Award of Excellence for her work in global health by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. She was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2011.