How conflict weakens national immune systems

Sacha Myers/MSF

How does conflict damage national 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.

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.

As we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War and the outbreak of Spanish Flu – one of history’s deadliest epidemics – we take a look at the link between conflict and healthcare.

Watch the full story narrated by renowned British actor Jim Broadbent.


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