November 1, 2023
Health Care and Public Health Professionals Call to Immediate Action to Address the Violence in Israel and Gaza and Its Health Consequences
As health care and public health professionals, we unequivocally condemn terrorist attacks against civilians and violence during war against civilians. International law recognizes attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure as crimes against humanity and, when committed during war, as war crimes. The medical and public health consequences of this violence against civilians in Israel and Gaza have been and continue to be horrendous and catastrophic.
The health harms of violence to civilians extend well beyond morbidity and mortality from explosives and other weapons. Forced displacement and restriction of access to food, water, shelter, health care, and medicine lead to widespread suffering, illness, and death. When people live in crowded conditions during war, they are at increased risk of tuberculosis and other respiratory disorders. When they are denied access to safe water, they develop dehydration and potentially fatal diarrheal diseases, such as cholera.
Malnutrition makes people vulnerable to infectious diseases and causes long-term consequences on health and development. When people with diabetes, epilepsy, or chronic heart or lung disease cannot get their basic medications, they are at increased risk of serious complications and death. When pregnant women do not receive medical care and adequate nutrition, they are at increased risk of potentially fatal complications and delivering premature or low-birthweight infants. During war and terrorist attacks, exposure to violence and the threat of violence also causes mental health problems, which can persist for years afterward.
In addition, war violates human rights, damages critical infrastructure and housing, and diverts resources that support people’s health. It also contributes to environmental contamination, pollution, and degradation as well as climate change.
We call on all parties directly and indirectly involved in the violence in Israel and Gaza and its consequences to immediately:
1. End the violence against all civilians and ensure their security;
2. Free all hostages;
3. Protect all health care workers and health care facilities;
4. Ensure that humanitarian assistance is promptly provided; and
5. Begin to build sustainable peace by ensuring human rights and justice for all.
We also call on health care and public health professionals, as well as their employers and professional organizations, to promote and support these actions.
Robert M. Gould, MD, chair, Peace Caucus and SF Bay PSR president
Patrice Sutton, MPH, co-program chair, Peace Caucus and SF Bay PSR Environmental Health Committee co-chair
Barry S. Levy, MD, MPH, Peace Caucus member, and past president of the American Public Health Association
We invite you to sign the call above, strongly supported by the Board of SF Bay PSR, which we hope to use to advance broader efforts to cease the violence and begin to build peace and justice for all people in the region.
THANK YOU for taking action.
- PSR National: Statement on Gaza Healthcare Crisis and Demands for Immediate Humanitarian Intervention
- World Health Organization and UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP: Joint statement on humanitarian supplies crossing into Gaza
- IPPNW: Our goal must be peace, health, and the security of all people
- NY Times: We Must Not Kill Gazan Children to Try to Protect Israel’s Children
- NY Times: I’m Crying for All the Victims Who Are Going to Suffer
Update on the United Nation’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)
This is a good moment to catch up on progress because the second meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will take place after Thanksgiving, at United Nations headquarters in New York City. PSR will send a delegation of 10 nuclear abolitionists to the conference. Currently there are 93 signatories and 69 states parties.
PSR National: A one-page update by PSR National Intern Orlando Bell.
- SF Marin Medical Society Magazine: by SF Bay PSR President Dr. Robert M Gould, Let’s Heed Oppenheimer and End the Threat of Nuclear Weapons
- (And though this is not directly related to nuclear prohibition, we also applaud SF Bay PSR Board Member Dr. Jeff Ritterman for his article in the same issue, Getting Explicit about Implicit Bias.)
- IntelliNews: Russian senators vote to revoke Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty ratification
- ICAN: Russia revokes ratification of nuclear test ban treaty (CTBT)
- NEWSWEEK: America’s Nuclear Weapons Plan Gets a Boost