Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Colombia: Health Effects of War

This fascinating article relates to Colombia, but I don't see why it isn't relevant to many other countries.

Much has been written about the psychological trauma of living through war, being displaced, torture, having a disappeared relative, etc. But how much do we hear about the physical effects?

A study has shown that survivors in Colombia have higher rates of cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, gastritis and ulcers, and headaches, backaches and neckaches. When you think about it, it's hardly unknown or astonishing that prolonged, severe stress has repercussions on the body, but this source of further suffering is rarely given much consideration.

Apparently, 25% of the population shows symptoms of mental disorders such as severe depression and posttraumatic stress, but among displaced people (of whom Colombia has the highest number in the world) this rises to 75%. Moreover, significant incidences of alcoholism, drug abuse and suicides are also noted.

Anecdotally, victims' groups report high rates of cancer among their members.

This kind of research is important because it indicates a further aspect in which victims of conflict may require resources and support.

El conflicto armado aumenta el riesgo de cancer, asma, hipertension y diabetes entre las victimas

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