To get a broader perspective on the problems of the Australian health system, take a moment to read this disturbing account from The Lancet’s Global Health Network.

Hatem Shurrab, an aid worker with Islamic Relief, describes how close Gaza hospitals are to collapsing and being unable to provide even basic services to the injured and wounded.

The Lancet editorialises, meanwhile, that Gaza is far from being the only place in the world where civilians injured by conflict are not getting the help they need.

“As the world watches the terrible events unfolding in Gaza, several other conflict zones around the globe continue to be ignored,” the journal says.

“Since Israel’s air and ground offensive against the Hamas regime in Gaza captured international political and media attention, hundreds of people—400 in one day alone—have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and many more lack the medical attention they so desperately need.”

The editorial (Jan 10) cites a list of the top ten most neglected humanitarian disasters, compiled annually by Médecins Sans Frontières, which says Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Sudan, and Pakistan are home to some of the worst humanitarian and medical emergencies in the world.

It’s time the medical profession become much more proactive in engaging with such issues, the journal urges.

“If the Hippocratic Oath means anything, all doctors whatever their situation, specialty, or seniority should live up to this name by calling on their national governments and the international community—perhaps through their national medical organisations—to ensure that civilians injured or affected by conflict receive the medical attention they need, wherever these people may be in the world,” it says.

“Such action is not being a so-called humanitarian—it is what being a member of the medical profession should be all about.”

So what does the AMA think?

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