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Another doctor’s life lost in Syria’s Conflict
It has been nearly 20 months since the start of the uprising in Syria against its ruling government and there are no signs of it reaching a peaceful solution with wide spread fighting across the country involving most of its cities especially the two largest Aleppo and Damascus. The constant shelling of populated areas triggered a major internal exudes of population with the lucky ones reaching refugee camps in neighbouring countries Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan the rest who are unfortunate bare the risk of being injured by gun fire, blast shrapnel, and the lack of security has left them vulnerable to armed gangs taking advantage of the lawless situation kidnapping affluent people for a ransom.
Medical professionals are the most vulnerable people in this type of civil unrest they are easy targets they face arrest, kidnapping and persecution for one crime, that is doing their job, providing the necessary health provision to the people stuck in the middle of conflict.
The Syrian British Medical Society (SBMS) has just published another letter of condemnation for the kidnap and murder of a prominent figure in the medical society of Aleppo Dr Tasbihji is the Clinical Director of Aleppo University Hospital who was kidnapped by an armed group and left on the side of a road weeks later with a gunshot to his head who they are we will never know as all sides blame the other, one thing is certain another doctors life has been lost as this is not the first and last doctor who will lose his life while performing his duty in this conflict nor is this the first and last letter of condemnation from the Syrian British Medical Society that may fall on the deaf ears of the conflicting parties. Medical professionals across the UK should join the SBMS and support it in its work towards assisting medical personnel working in Syria to maintain the provision of health care all be it whatever the facilities and environment available for them.
Competing interests: None declared
University Hospitals of Leicester, Department of Orthopaedics, Leicester General Hospital, Gwendolen Road, Leicester LE5 4PE
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20 March 2012
The medical professionalism is grossly undermined in the current situation in Syria.Cruess et al. described medical professionalism as an idea to be sustained (1) and this cannot be achieved unless there are structural supports available and functional. Creating long list of attributes on medical education and professionalism alone (2) would not do any better in real health work environment or in extra-ordinary situations. Syria is not the first state violating the code of ethics in the medical field and may not be the last. Almost a year ago the World Medical Association (WMA) issued a resolution on Bahrain (3), demanding that all states understand and respect the concept of medical neutrality.
Medical professionalism has survived through its continuous engagement with society. Nevertheless, such societal contract is only meaningful when a mutual understanding exists between the government which defines and renders the licensing of the profession and the professionals in an organised society (4). The issue of dual loyalty is more magnified in situations of armed conflict, where medical personnel are threatened to abandon their professionalism.
Whilst there are numerous international Conventions and Declarations aimed at upholding medical ethics, they lack affirmative action for effectual and timely intervention. United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could be more involved in taking a more proactive approach to intervene to ensure medical professionalism is upheld under any circumstances.
1.Cruess RL, Cruess SR, Johnston SE. Professionalism: an ideal to be sustained. The Lancet. 2000 Jul;356:156–9.
2.The Lancet. Medical education and professionalism. The Lancet. 2009 Mar;373(9668):980.
3.WMA Resolution on Bahrain [Internet]. [cited 2012 Feb 21]. Available from: http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/b2/index.html
4.Richmond B J, Eisenberg L. Medical Professionalism in Society. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2000;342(17):1288–90.
Competing interests: None declared
Monash University Sunway Campus, Jalan Lagoon Selatan,46150 Bandar Sunway, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
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