A guidance document for medical teams responding to health emergencies in armed conflicts and other insecure environments

Medical care for people caught up in armed conflict and other insecure environments saves lives and alleviates suffering. It is one of the most immediate and high priority needs of an affected population and is often the first type of response activated and/or requested by authorities and affected communities. Medical teams working in armed conflict and other insecure environments frequently face serious threats to their security and safety, challenges to patient access, and at times limited acceptance by affected communities in which they work and parties to the conflict. Such difficulties are likely to increase (6) and thereby creating a critical need to establish contact and trust with all sides in conflicts and in other insecure environments to ensure operational continuity. This trust can best be achieved when all sides perceive the medical teams to be neutral, impartial, and independent, and specifically not aiding (or being perceived to aid) any one party to achieve a military, political or economic advantage. For medical teams that are deploying increasingly closer to the frontlines, the implications of and consequences for both staff and patients of teams not being fully prepared, and/or not fully comprehending the context in which they work, can be severe. Medical response can easily be hindered or compromised by intentional or unintentional acts and the behaviour and conduct of the teams themselves