9 Nov 2023 17:00 - 19:00 Online & Room SG1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road


An event by the Healthcare in Conflict research network.


  • Sean Hudson (Department of War Studies, Kings College London)
  • Saleyha Ahsan (International Health Systems Design Group, Dept of Engineering, University of Cambridge)


Dr Sean Hudson
‘The weaponisation of healthcare and developing counter-measures’

Dr Hudson is a UK based clinician and Academic Fellow in General Practise, Academic Department of Military General Practise, Research and Clinical Innovation, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine.

Health Care provision and restriction is increasingly be used in conflicts by state and non state actors to achieve objectives on the battlefield. The exploitation of medical capability and provision is multidimensional and can be nuanced and subtle. This hybrid activity in the grey zone or in overt conflict includes practices such as targeting health care facilities, influencing, threatening, or killing health workers, disregarding medical neutrality to deliver or deny health care and besieging medicine. It also includes the overt and covert use of health care intervention to promote conflict through enabling combatants, winning support from local populations, identifying targets and the use of medicine as a cover for intelligence gathering and direct actions. Some actors in conflicts are engaged in large scale violations of International Humanitarian Law, which have implications beyond the confines of conflict, spreading distrust and promoting violence against health care workers and even triggering massive population displacements. The exploitation of health care amounts to what has been called a ‘war crime strategy’. In this lecture, Dr Hudson will present data on how state actors are conducting the weaponization of healthcare in order to achieve effect in warfare.

Dr Saleyha Ahsan
‘Understanding the impact of attacks against healthcare through a health systems design approach’

Dr Ahsan is a PhD candidate, International Health Systems Design Group, Department of Engineering, ESRC DTP Knowledge Exchange Scholar working with the WHO Global Healthcare Workforce.

Healthcare operates within conflict settings, reliant on the observation of international humanitarian law (IHL). The emblem alone does not however provide adequate protection, as demonstrated in current conflicts. The impacts of the breaches, resulting in attacks against healthcare are acutely and chronically relevant. The reach of the consequences both at individual and population level is an area of developing research. Due to the complexities of conducting research in hostile settings, empirical research is still limited. Despite this, following instruction from the World Health Assembly, international agencies constructed and launched methods of recording data sets related to such attacks in 2017. In this lecture, the various data collection methods being used by researchers will be described. In addition, the variation between methods and resulting differences in data will be discussed and demonstrated. Dr Ahsan will draw on how this data together with a mixed methods approach conducted with a patient cohort in Jordan, will allow for an understanding of the scale of the impact and what this impact is on both patients and healthcare systems affected.


For enquiries please contact the Research Networks Programme Manager.

Upcoming Events

View from the back of an ambulance in Palestine (film still)
Hybrid Event, Seminar


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk