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.
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.
An international panel of speakers will explore the critical humanitarian issue of violence against health care at a public event during the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's statutory meetings in Sydney this month.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.