Conflict Medicine: A Manifesto

Source: Conflict Medicine: A Manifesto

adequately manage their disease. This is further exacerbated by the targeting of medical facilities and the flight and migration of medical experts from conflict zones.

In addition to this, the paradigms of diagnosing and treating the mental health consequences of protracted conflicts also need to be revisited. The predominance of psychiatric models, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are premised on a temporal exposure to war and trauma, do not hold sway in areas where the everyday lives of entire generations have been shaped by chronic conflicts. At the same time, current models of psychosocial interventions and support need to be rethought to better address the complexities of injury to the collective psyche and the social body writ large. Health professionals need to be trained in the diagnosis and delivery of appropriate and culturally sensitive interventions at the primary care level.

In war-torn environments, where data collection is nearly impossible, patients’ narratives and experiences should be accorded greater value in providing insights into the early detection of health needs and changing patterns of morbidity. Furthermore, these narratives will help in better understanding the ways affected families and communities strategize their survival by triaging their health needs with the resources and facilities available to them.

An interdisciplinary conflict-centered approach to health lies at the heart of conflict medicine. This will help detect emerging trends, reshape medical education and training, and reconfigure the delivery of care in societies afflicted by war. The trans-generational legacies of present conflicts will inevitably shape the health environment of the future. This requires medical needs in conflict to be understood beyond the temporality of crisis and emergency.

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