The crisis of health in a crisis ridden region

  • Wasim MaziakEmail author
Speakers corner - Health in a troubled region


The overall picture of the Arab world today is dire; no Arab country is free from political strife, foreign intervention, or the threat of terrorism. Continuing instability and the failure of national governments to uphold the rule of law and deliver on development are tearing apart the fabric of Arab societies. Internally, Arab regimes’ agendas are shaped by security and their makeup by kinship and loyalty, pushing people to seek refuge within their primordial loyalties. From the outside, foreign meddling in the name of “democracy” is deepening the Arab world’s instability, therefore providing justification for opponents of change to discredit the values of human rights and power sharing. In such an environment, the voiceless majority becomes the main victims, with detrimental effects on their physical and mental wellbeing. A domino-like breakdown of the Arab region, with serious consequences for world’s stability, is becoming an increasingly likely scenario.


Health Arab world Crisis 


  1. Abdel Samad Z (2007) Civil society in the Arab Region: its necessary role and the obstacles to fulfillment. Int J Not-for-Profit Law 9:3–23Google Scholar
  2. Adib SM (2004) From the biomedical model to the Islamic alternative: a brief overview of medical practices in the contemporary Arab world. Soc Sci Med 58:697–702CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Akala FA, El-Saharty S (2006) Public-health challenges in the Middle East and North Africa. Lancet 367:961–964CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Al Maaloof N (2007) Honor crimes opposed by law, religion and human rights, who protects it (Arabic). Syria News. Available at Accessed 13 Apr 2009
  5. Al-Sadawi A (2009) Gay Iraqis face persecution. Niqash, 22 April. Available at Accessed 9 Apr 2009
  6. Ammar NH (2007) Wife battery in Islam: a comprehensive understanding of interpretations. Violence Against Women 13:516–526CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Arab Human Development Report (2002) How the Arabs compare. Middle East Quarterly. Available at Accessed 23 Apr 2009
  8. Bahgat H (2001) Explaining Egypt’s targeting of gays. Middle East Report July 23. Available at . Accessed 18 Apr 2009
  9. Bayoumi RA, Yardumian A, Bayoumi RA (2006) Genetic disease in the Arab world. BMJ 333:819CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Bellin E (2008) Democratization and its discontents; should America push political reform in the Middle East? Foreign Affairs, July/AugustGoogle Scholar
  11. Bhutta ZA, Belgaumi A, Abdur Rab M, Karrar Z, Khashaba M, Mouane N (2006) Child health and survival in the Eastern Mediterranean region. BMJ 333:839–842CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Bibars I (2005) Gender and citizenship in the Arab World, to be or not to be: Arab women’s legal existence and their compromised citizenship. Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women (ADEW). Available at Accessed 19 Apr 2009
  13. Boutayeb A, Serghini M (2006) Health indicators and human development in the Arab region. Int J Health Geogr 5:61CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Brennan RJ, Sondorp E (2006) Humanitarian aid: some political realities. BMJ 333:817–818CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Burnham G, Lafta R, Doocy S, Roberts L (2006) Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey. Lancet 368:1421–1428CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Butler D (2006) The data gap. Nature 444:2627Google Scholar
  17. Cook RJ, Dickens BM, Fathalla MF (2002) Female genital cutting (mutilation/circumcision): ethical and legal dimensions. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 79:281–287CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. DeJong J, El-Khoury G (2006) Reproductive health of Arab young people. BMJ 333:849–851CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Douki S, Nacef F, Belhadj A, Bouasker A, Ghachem R (2003) Violence against women in Arab and Islamic countries. Arch Womens Ment Health 6:165–171CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Editorial (2006) Science and the Islamists. Nature 444:1Google Scholar
  21. Fathalla MF, Rashad H (2006) Sexual and reproductive health of women. BMJ 333:816–817CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Fergany N (2006) Islam and science: steps towards reform. Nature 444:33–34CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Fouad FM, Rastam S, Ward KD, Maziak W (2006) Prevalence of obesity and its associated factors in Aleppo, Syria. Prev Control 2:85–94CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Haj-Yahia MM (2002) The impact of wife abuse on marital relations as revealed by the Second Palestinian National Survey on violence against women. J Fam Psychol 16:273–285CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Hammal F, Mock J, Ward KD, Fouad MF, Beech BM, Maziak W (2005) Settling with danger: conditions and health problems in peri-urban neighbourhoods in Aleppo, Syria. Environ Urban 17:113–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hasnain M (2005) Cultural approach to HIV/AIDS harm reduction in Muslim countries. Harm Reduct J 2:23CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Hefny M (2006) Actualizing water ethics in the regional context of the Arab World. In: Management of intentional and accidental water pollution. Springer, Netherlands, pp 277–311Google Scholar
  28. Hiro D (2006) A setback for democracy; The US-led invasion in Iraq interrupted the Middle East’s gradual movement toward liberalization. Yale Global. Available at Accessed 19 Apr 2009
  29. Human Rights Watch (2007) Saudi Arabia: rape victim punished for speaking out. Available at Accessed 9 Apr 2009
  30. International Committee of the Red Cross (2009) Gaza: political action needed to resolve humanitarian crisis. Available at Accessed 1 Apr 2009
  31. Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) (2000) Strategy for the development of science & technology in Islamic countries. Available at Accessed 4 Apr 2009
  32. Jabbour S, Fouad FM (2004) Religion-based tobacco control interventions: how should WHO proceed? Bull World Health Organ 82:923–927PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Joseph S (2000) Gender and citizenship in the Middle East. Syracuse University Press, SyracuseGoogle Scholar
  34. Kulwicki AD (2002) The practice of honor crimes: a glimpse of domestic violence in the Arab world. Issues Ment Health Nurs 237:7–87Google Scholar
  35. LeVine M (2002) The UN Arab Human Development Report: a critique. Middle East Report. Available at Accessed 11 Apr 2009
  36. Lord KM (2009) The Arab world’s uneven progress. Christian Science Monitor. Available at Accessed 19 Apr 2009
  37. Makhoul J, El-Barbir F (2006) Obstacles to health in the Arab world. BMJ 333:859CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Masood E (2006) Islam and science: an Islamist revolution. Nature 444:22–25CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Maziak W (2004) Geography of biomedical publications. Lancet 363:490CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Maziak W (2005) Global voices of science. Science in the Arab world: vision of glories beyond. Science 308:1416–1418CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Maziak W (2006) Health in the Middle East. BMJ 333:815–816CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Maziak W, Asfar T (2003) Physical abuse in low-income women in Aleppo, Syria. Health Care Women Int 24:313–326PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Maziak W, Asfar T, Mzayek F, Fouad FM, Kilzieh N (2002) Socio-demographic correlates of psychiatric morbidity among low-income women in Aleppo, Syria. Soc Sci Med 2002(54):1419–1427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Maziak W, Ward KD, Mzayek F, Rastam S, Bachir ME, Fouad MF, Hammal F, Asfar T, Mock J, Nuwayhid I, Frumkin H, Grimsley F, Chibli M (2005) Mapping the health and environmental situation in informal zones in Aleppo, Syria: report from the Aleppo household survey. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 78:547–558CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Musani A, Shaikh I (2006) Preparedness for humanitarian crises needs to be improved. BMJ 333:843–845CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Nishtar S (2006) Lessons in tackling chronic disease. BMJ 333(7573):820CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Noland M (2007) The looming Arab employment crisis. Int Econ 5:4–57Google Scholar
  48. Obermeyer CM (2006) HIV in the Middle East. BMJ 333:851–854CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Press Conference by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2007) Available at Accessed 20 Apr 2009
  50. Sano KM (2006) The Islamic world and the West (Arabic). Haraa 8. Available at
  51. Sawahel W (2004) Brain drain threatens future of Arab science. SciDev.Net, 3 JuneGoogle Scholar
  52. Shehada NY (2004) The rise of fundamentalism and the role of the ‘State’ in the specific political context of Palestine. WLUML-Warning signs of fundamentalisms. Available at Accessed 3 Apr 2009
  53. The Arab Human Development Report 2005 (2006) Towards the rise of women in the Arab World. United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Arab States (RBAS), New YorkGoogle Scholar
  54. UN Daily News (2007) Available at Accessed 22 Apr 2009
  55. United Nations Development Programme, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (2002) Arab human development report 2002. UNDP, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  56. Walsh J (2003) Egypt’s muslim brotherhood, understanding centrist Islam. Harvard International Review. Available at Accessed 14 Apr 2009
  57. The World Bank (2008) World Development Indicators online. The World Bank, Washington, DC. Available at Accessed 14 Apr 2009
  58. World Report (2001) Human rights watch, Middle East and Northern Africa overview. Available at Accessed 29 April 2009

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

Personalised recommendations