Violence against patients and health-care workers is one of the most crucial yet overlooked humanitarian issues today. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement runs a global campaign aiming to improve security and delivery of impartial and efficient health care in armed conflict and other emergencies.
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In addition to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, other organizations and individuals are actively working to improve the security and delivery of health care in armed violence. They are part of a community of concern that is working towards a common objective.
Receiving safe and effective treatment when we are unwell or injured is vital for our health. Yet in times of war and violence, even getting help for common ailments or chronic conditions, not to say severe wounds, can be impossible. The ICRC has told a House of Commons inquiry more must be done to protect millions left without life-saving help when violence erupts.
As part of the ICRC-led Health Care in Danger project, renowned experts and field practitioners work to improve safety of health-care delivery in armed conflict and other emergencies. Last April they tackled the security of health-care facilities. This video offers a first glimpse of their recommendations.
Health-care workers need to know both their roles and their responsibilities, especially if they are working in situations of armed conflict and other emergencies, often facing insecurity and ethical dilemmas. Based on their field experience, a doctor, a nurse and a forensic expert share their views and knowledge on the issue.
Attacks on health workers, hospitals and clinics are a growing problem in the world's conflict zones and have a devastating impact on the availability of care for the sick and wounded. World health experts gathered in London at the Royal Society of Medicine in December 2013 responded with alarm to rising attacks on doctors in Syria and elsewhere.
"Change requires the input of many," says Pierre Gentile, head of the Health Care in Danger project. The project's most recent newsletter features a variety of articles, news about the project, a field case study and a discussion between health care experts.
On 22 October the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the 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.
In this joint op-ed originally published by Al Jazeera, the president of MSF international, Dr Unni Karunakara and ICRC president Peter Maurer expose the scale of threats to health care, the consequences and what the organizations are doing to bring about real change on the ground.
On 20 June the jury for the ICRC’s third Humanitarian Visa d'Or awarded its 2013 prize to photojournalist Sebastiano Tomada (SIPA Press, New York) for a report from Aleppo, Syria. His report poignantly documents the situation of the wounded, the difficulty of accessing health care and the precariousness of relief provision structures exposed to the violence of the fighting.
The ICRC and the World Medical Association signed a memorandum of understanding in Geneva on 26 June 2013, in which the two organizations agree to join forces in a worldwide effort to combat violence against patients and health-care workers.
The ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) Humanitarian Affairs Segment provides an opportunity to increase understanding among governments about violence against health care, present national examples of positive measures contributing to secure health-care delivery and ensure continuity of the discussions that took place during the last International Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent.
Francoise Duroch of Médecins sans frontières describes how conflict and violence disrupt health care and how medical workers find themselves the direct targets of violence. She explains how MSF is sometimes forced to suspend its activities and the conditions under which the organization will go public about a situation.
Over 250,000 people attended "Perspectives", Tom's Stoddart's recent London exhibition featuring photographs that illustrate the deadly impact of conflict on health care. He chooses a favourite photo and looks back at a career spent in some of the world's worst conflict zones.