A new commentary in Nature Medicine highlights the urgent need for humanitarian aid to be allowed to enter the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where 21 months of civil war have “caused a dire humanitarian crisis and pushed Tigray’s health system to the brink of total collapse.”

The devastating effects of the conflict are compounded by regulatory and security obstacles to providing humanitarian aid. The situation has left thousands dead and millions vulnerable to disease and hunger, the authors write. And yet, the crisis in Tigray continues to get relatively little attention from the media and global leaders compared to other global conflicts.

The letter was written by Stanford medicine students Wasan Kumar and Bereket A. Gebregziabher, alongside Ethiopian doctor Dr. Reiye E. Mengesha and Global Health Faculty Fellow Dr. Paul Wise. Kumar is also the co-chair for the Organization for Global Health, a group created by Stanford Medicine students to increase awareness of international health issues by educating at home and assisting abroad.

The letter calls on leaders in global health, specifically academic leaders, donor countries, and international aid organizations, to exert greater pressure on the Ethiopian government to end the siege and allow greater humanitarian access to Tigray to support vulnerable populations and health institutions.

The letter ends with a call to action: “Global health organizations and donor nations have an authoritative advocacy voice and a profound capability to help rebuild health infrastructures across Ethiopia, infrastructures that continue to be destroyed as we write this letter.”

Photo courtesy of the US AID Agency for International Development, Flickr.