Research Article

Health, humanitarian relief, and survival in former Yugoslavia.

BMJ 1993; 307 doi: (Published 03 July 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;307:44
  1. D Acheson
  1. Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.


    Since the World Health Organisation's effort in former Yugoslavia started in July 1992 it has been concerned with the public health policies of survival. It has provided advice to the United Nations High Commission for refugees, helped the voluntary agencies coordinate their work, assessed health needs, and provided practical help in the field to all parties to the conflict. Three features of the Bosnia war have particularly deplorable effects on health: ethnic cleansing, deliberate attacks on hospitals, and systematic rape. The WHO's response has included initiatives in nutrition, winter survival, and medical supplies. This experience shows that the WHO can have a useful role complementary to that of other agencies in situations where the basic elements for survival of the population are seriously compromised by war.