Knowledge Production in Public Health Amid Conflict

with Dr. Samer Jabbour

This podcast episode is in Arabic

As intractable conflicts continue in the region such as  Syria, Palestine, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and others, violence continues without clear signs of resolution or cessation. The influential powers in the region adopt strategies of dominance based on the use of force and subjugation, benefiting from support from regional and international forces.

One of the prominent outcomes of these conflicts is the severe violation of citizens’ rights and freedoms, including the right to life and health. Recent events in Gaza, with direct violations and targeting of hospitals and healthcare workers, underscore this impact.

The #9 episode of Syria: Alternative Dialogues podcast discusses the progress of knowledge production in the field of health amidst conflicts and wars. It sheds light on its important role, its influence on public policies, and its impact on people’s lives. Dr. Samer Jabbour, a researcher in the field of public health, shares his experience in public health in Syria, starting with the targeting of healthcare workers since the early days of the Syrian revolution.

Jabbour highlights the differences between the approaches of local health researchers and those endorsed by international practitioners. He illustrates how research goes beyond being solely humanitarian and becomes part of the broader context in the health field. Jabbour also discusses the targeting of the health sector in conflicts and its role as a tool in the war against communities and individuals.

The episode emphasizes the historical significance of knowledge production in the field of health, its substantial development over the years, and the interconnected relationship between health practices, knowledge production, research, and the pressure to change policies to protect people.

Finally, Jabbour reviews new experiences in knowledge health production in Syria, corresponding with technological advancements. He discusses the shift from passive observation phenomena to understanding the consequences of targeting the health sector and the nature of the response. Jabbour also shares his experience as a member of the International Alliance for Health in Conflict and his involvement in the Lancet Commission, highlighting ongoing initiatives in the field of health.

Episode Guest: Dr. Samer Jabbour, a cardiologist and public health researcher at the Syrian Center for Policy Research, former director of the Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health Department at the World Health Organization’s MENA Regional Office. He previously served as a professor of public health at the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) and held positions such as Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee of The Lancet and the American University of Beirut on Syria, and as the founding president of the International Alliance for Health and Conflict. He earned his medical degree from the University of Aleppo (Syria) and a Master’s in Public Health from Harvard University (USA).

Host: Rabie Nasser, Researcher and Co-founder, Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR).

مراجع الحلقة:
Episode resources


  • Rubenstein L. Perilous Medicine: The Struggle to Protect Health Care from the Violence of War. Columbia University Press. 2021. Link       
  • Peer-reviewed publications
  • Fouad FM, Sparrow A, Tarakji A, et al. Health workers and the weaponisation of health care in Syria: a preliminary inquiry for The Lancet-American University of Beirut Commission on Syria. Lancet 2017; 390: 2516–26. Link
  • Ekzayez A, Alhaj Ahmad Y, Alhaleb H, Checchi F. The impact of armed conflict on utilization of health services in north-west Syria: an observational study. Confl Health. 2021;15(1):91. Link
  • Jabbour S. The health as the enemy: attacking health care in war. Lancet. 2021; 398 (10317); 2141–2142. Link
  • Haar RJ, Read R, Fast L, et al. Violence against healthcare in conflict: a systematic review of the literature and agenda for future research. Confl Health. 2021; 15: 37. Link
  • Jabbour S, Fardousi N. Violence Against HealthCare in Syria: Patterns, Meanings, Implications. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 2022; 49 (3): 403-417. Link


  • International Rescue Committee. A Decade of Destruction: Attacks on health care in Syria. 2021. Link   
  • Syrian American Medical Society. A Heavy Price to Pay: Attacks on Healthcare Systems in Syria 2015-2021. 2022. Link  
  • Devastation of the Right to Health during the Syrian Conflict link


  • Physicians for Human Rights. A Map of Attacks on Health Care in Syria. Link  
  • Syrian Archive. TARGETING HEALTH: Attacks Against Medical Facilities in Syria. Link
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