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The Vulnerability of Health Care in Conflict: Ukraine and Beyond

April 13, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spotlighted the long-standing issue of attacks on hospitals, medical personnel, and civilian populations during times of war.

It has been more than 150 years since international law first required that combatants refrain from attacking hospitals, the wounded and sick, and health workers, yet these assaults persist—often without consequences.

Such attacks threaten public health infrastructure, both immediately and for years thereafter. So far, the World Health Organization has verified more than 100 attacks on health care workers and facilities since Russia invaded Ukraine, and experts worry these attacks will continue. 

During this hybrid event, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health experts Chris Beyrer and Len Rubenstein, along with Sergii Dvoriak, head of the board, founder, and senior scientist of the Ukrainian Institute for Public Health Policy; Mulugeta Gebregziabher, professor of biostatistics and vice chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina; and Ghutai Sadeq Yaqubi, acting technical director of USAID's Urban Health Initiative Project through Jhpiego in Afghanistan, provide context for the violence against health care in ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Myanmar, Tigray, and elsewhere. They also discussed the threats to the creation of a functioning health system in Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal.

Against this backdrop, the experts also addressed the actions—and inaction—of the international community in addressing this violence against health care and its implications.



Chris Beyrer

Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH ’91

Director, Center for Public Health and Human Rights
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

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Len Rubenstein 

Len Rubenstein, JD 

Director, Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict
Center for Public Health and Human Rights  
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 

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Sergii Dvoriak

Sergii Dvoriak, MD, PhD, DMedSci 

Head of the Board, Founder, and Senior Scientist
Ukrainian Institute for Public Health Policy

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Mulugeta Gebregziabher 

Mulugeta Gebregziabher, PhD

Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Public Health Sciences
Medical University of South Carolina

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Ghutai Sadeq Yaqubi

Ghutai Sadeq Yaqubi, MD, MPH

Acting Technical Director, USAID Urban Health Initiative Project  
Jhpiego, Afghanistan 

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This event was hosted by the Bloomberg School’s Center for Public Health and Human Rights and co-sponsored by the School’s Center for Humanitarian Health.

The Bloomberg School has joined with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and other schools and programs of public health to endorse a joint statement demanding the protection of health care workers in Ukraine and beyond.