The Impact of War and Conflict on the Spread of Infectious Diseases and Health
War and conflict have profound and devastating impacts on public health. In addition to the physical, mental and emotional trauma it causes, war and conflict often result in the breakdown of essential healthcare systems, placing vulnerable populations at greater risk of infectious diseases and other associated health issues.
Reduced Access to Healthcare
On-going civil strife and armed conflict can create various obstacles that interfere with access to basic healthcare services. People who are fleeing a conflict zone may not have the same access to healthcare that they had previously, if any access at all. This can lead to the development of preventable and chronic diseases, as well as an increased risk of death or further injury.
The displacement of large populations and the collapse of essential infrastructure due to war and unrest can lead to overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions. This often results in a sharp increase of infectious diseases with potential epidemic potential, such as cholera, malaria, SARS, Ebola, and influenza.
The disruption of resources due to war and conflict can limit the availability of essential healthcare services. This can include the lack of access to both personnel and resources, including medical supplies. It can also lead to shortages of food, water, shelter and clothing, further weakening the population’s health.
Increased Mental Health Issues
The psychological impacts of war and conflict can lead to mental health issues such as depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Substance Abuse. These issues can in turn also lead to physical health issues such as increased risk of disease, heart disease, sleep disorders and digestive issues.
The Need for International Intervention
It is essential that international organizations intervene in armed conflicts by providing resources and support to those affected. This includes ensuring access to healthcare, clean water, food, clothes and essential medicines. Not only will this help ensure that both civilians and combatants are taken care of, but it will also help to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and other health problems once the fighting has subsided.