The participants included doctors from trauma units and emergency wards who themselves had been targeted in the war; child psychiatrists who had witnessed sieges in which children have been made suicidal, some deliberately exposing themselves to sniper fire; the caretakers of refugees; doctors from maternity hospitals where infants routinely die from a lack of basic medicines, supplies, and equipment; doctors from frontline situations they had not left until they attended the workshop more than 1 or 2 years; and academicians and health leaders of their own countries and officials of pediatric societies and children 's hospitals.
The organizing committee had formulated three central questions for the workshop: What is the state of child health in war-torn former Yugoslavia today? What can be done to improve it? And how might this knowledge be used to benefit other children in the world?
The discussions began with a series of presentations entitled “Children in My Vicinity.” Each participant had been asked to prepare in advance a short statement describing particular conditions and problems of the children in his or her own region. These statements provided powerful and moving glimpses of child health problems as seen by the doctors who were responsible for the care of the children. In this report the key elements of these presentations, subsequent presentations, and discussions are summarized to provide an insight into the health conditions of children today in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. The ideas and statistics in the report reflect the material included in the presentations and discussions of the participants during the workshop. Specific references are provided for published materials.
Accurate and standard management of data is necessary to understand health needs and to facilitate planning for the future in times of peace and war alike. Despite attention by the media and humanitarian organizations, little documented information has yet been available concerning the actual status of child health in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. It is clear that such data can be difficult to come by in wartime situations and that this difficulty is enhanced by rapidly changing circumstances. A number of challenges must be faced in addressing these issues, including the conditions under which the data are collected, the evaluation of the data, and the uses of the data. Furthermore, even when available, the data may be difficult to communicate and incorporate into decision-making processes. For these reasons, the workshop began with discussions of the challenges presented in obtaining health data in situations of war and difficult circumstances and on the needs for and the appropriate uses of such data. Indeed,