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ICN and ICRC address role of health-care personnel in armed conflicts and other emergencies

23-10-2013

On 22 October the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the "Health Care in Danger" project, which aims ultimately to make access to health care in situations of armed violence more secure.

"We welcome the decision of such a prestigious organization as the ICN to join the project," said Pierre Gentile, "Health Care in Danger" project coordinator. "ICN will be able to help make and communicate recommendations enabling health-care workers to cope with dilemmas they may face in conflicts and other emergencies."

The very sad thing is that the number of countries where the nurses are subject to violence is increasing - said at the signature David Benton, Chief Executive Officer for the International Council of Nurses - To tackle this issue we have to stand together. Each individual organisation can have an impact on the problem, but together we can have much bigger impact.

The memorandum sets out the scope of ICN’s participation in the project, which includes contributing the knowledge and experience of national nursing associations, notably on ethical issues, to project-related debates; co-organizing round tables with practitioners; informing its membership on project developments; and distributing project publications and other documents, including the Health Care in Danger Global Report, to its membership and to other organizations, such as the World Health Professions Alliance.

"We have a fundamental duty to protect the ability of nurses and other health-care workers to deliver care to those in need," said ICN President Judith Shamian. "ICN believes nurses have a significant role to play in addressing the impact of armed conflict on the emergency and long-term health needs of civilian populations and wounded combatants, and demands protection for all health facilities and health professionals providing care and relief personnel in conflict zones and other emergencies."

  • In the event of armed conflict, ICN urges national nurses associations to:Call upon their governments to respect international law and ensure the immediate provision of humanitarian assistance, including health care, to refugees and displaced persons and to facilitate open and coordinated access of international humanitarian organizations in the affected regions.
  • Examine the implications for their countries and undertake cooperative action with local branches of government, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations at national and local levels to provide suitable health services, without discrimination, for all those in need.
  • Call upon their governments to ensure that the duty to care of nurses and other health workers is not obstructed.

Photos

David Benton (left), Chief Executive Officer for the ICN and Pierre Gentile (right), Health Care in Danger project coordinator. 

David Benton (left), Chief Executive Officer for the ICN and Pierre Gentile (right), "Health Care in Danger" project coordinator.
© ICRC / Thierry Gassmann

Kandahar, Afghanistan. An ICRC teaching nurse examines a child in the paediatric ward of Mirwais Hospital. 

Kandahar, Afghanistan. An ICRC teaching nurse examines a child in the paediatric ward of Mirwais Hospital.
© ICRC / M. Kokic / af-e-01196