Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases in Conflict Zones

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Modern armed conflict represents a significant risk to global health. This risk is partly inherent in the use of mass violence to advance political goals but also arises in large part from the contemporary trend of warring parties failing in their duty to abide by International Humanitarian Law. The deliberate targeting (or negligent destruction) of civilian and health infrastructure, the endangerment of health workers, and the subjection of a civilian population to starvation, unnecessary forced displacement, and other cruelties are war crimes which should not be normalized. As well as the direct toll of morbidity and mortality that they bring in the form of short-term injuries and deaths, these actions dramatically increase the risk of communicable and noncommunicable disease incidence and simultaneously reduce the ability of a society to prevent and control such risks. Armed conflict degrades the capacity of health systems to gather vital data and plan effectively for future emergencies, and all of these impacts can persist long after the guns have fallen silent. A fuller understanding of the many and various ways in which warfare affects public health (in the separate but linked senses of the professional discipline and the collective health and well-being of the public) would be highly beneficial to international policy-makers, humanitarian workers, and health professionals of whatever background who work (or are planning to work) in or near conflict zones.


Armed conflict War/warfare Public health Communicable disease Prevention Protection Planning Post-conflict Vaccination Humanitarian 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustDerbyUK
  2. 2.University of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  3. 3.Faculty of Public HealthLondonUK
  4. 4.Global Violence Prevention special interest groupLondonUK
  5. 5.Médecins Sans FrontièresLondonUK
  6. 6.Imperial College LondonLondonUK
  7. 7.Public Health EnglandLondonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Irene Anne Jillson
    • 1
  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityWashington DCUSA

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