Explainer | How conflict damages a nation's health

In 1918, as the First World War ended, a deadly new virus began to spread across Europe. The Spanish Flu quickly infected a third of the world’s population, killing up to 100 million people in a single year, more than both World Wars combined.

Around the world MSF provides medical care for people who have been injured in conflict. We triage the wounded, operate on the severely injured, and help patients through their recoveries.

Opinion: How does conflict damage a nation's health? >

But war wounds aren’t the only threat to people living in conflict. And they’re not the only way MSF works to support people caught up in fighting. Conflict weakens the national immune system, leading to catastrophic public health emergencies.

People lose access to shelter, food, clean water, sanitation and healthcare, making them far more susceptible to deadly diseases. And when outbreaks of infections, like cholera, Ebola, diphtheria and Spanish flu, break out, people are too weak and healthcare systems are too badly damaged to fight them off.

In 2018, a brutal civil war together with a land and sea blockage, has driven up food prices and forced 18 million Yemenis towards malnutrition. Rates of malnutrition in Yemen are now 50 percent higher than before the war, and almost half of deaths in children under five are caused by a lack of food.

MSF provides emergency nutrition where people lack food, builds latrines and provides clean water, and supports hospitals and clinics with staff, resources and training. So that, when deadly diseases arrive, they can be fought.

our work in conflict zones >

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