Healthcare workers in Syria using WhatsApp to monitor attacks

Some 402 healthcare workers in the region were attacked in the last year

Healthcare workers in Syria using WhatsApp to monitor attacks

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WhatsApp is being used to help monitor attacks on healthcare workers in Syria. 

Information published by the medical journal, The Lancet, shows that some 402 workers were attacked over the last year.  

Almost half of hospitals in non-government controlled areas were hit, some more than once, during that period. "The so-called weaponisation of health care - the purposeful use of violence to restrict or deny access to health care as a strategy of war - has reached unprecedented levels in Syria," the authors said.

Healthcare workers in the area post short messages into WhatsApp in real time when an incident occurs, before filling out anonymous and confidential forms providing details such as location, type of attack, and the number of injuries and deaths.

Every month, data is verified by checking the WhatsApp alerts against other reports.

The civil war is now in its 7th year. More than 800 of the 320,000 killed since early 2011 were health care workers, The Lancet reported in March

"Until now, there has been no standardised method of collecting robust data," the study's authors said in a statement. “With more health care facilities targeted, nurses and doctors on site have had to become resourceful in trying to keep patients out of harm's way.”

This study is part of a larger evaluation of how health care data is gathered during humanitarian crises such as those in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.