The effects of war on children in Africa

Pediatr Surg Int. 2003 Jun;19(4):227-32. doi: 10.1007/s00383-002-0926-9. Epub 2003 Apr 26.


There is no doubt that the effects of war extend to the most vulnerable members of society, including children. Although armed conflicts occur throughout the world, the African continent seems to be a particular background for civil and international wars. The aim of this study was to identify causes of conflict in Africa and to evaluate the effect of war on children and their health in order to make practical recommendations to health care workers dealing with children in the setting of war. All articles written in the past 5 years concerning "war" and "children" were identified by means of a literature search and internet review. Contrary to common belief, the causes of conflict are complicated and multi-factorial. The effects of war on childhood are disastrous and include severe negative effects on general paediatric health status. Short-term recommendations for health care workers working with children in war include supply of emergency medical infrastructures, basic health care, rehabilitation and education. Long-term recommendations include orchestrating the relief and support efforts from both national governments and international non-profit organisations and speeding up of economic recovery. The causes of conflict in Africa are complex and unlikely to be resolved soon. The effects of war on children are horrendous in many ways, but can be limited by providing timely and appropriate health care.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Child Welfare*
  • Humans
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Warfare*