Health Care in Danger: Editorial

13-02-2014 Editorial

There is no single solution, no “magic bullet”, that will suddenly make the delivery of health care safer. Achieving change will require the input of many and a range of different measures. The good news is that, two years after the launch of the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) project, we are now seeing a high level of engagement with the issue, not only within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, but also among various other humanitarian organizations, military groups, State authorities and other direct stakeholders.

Pierre Gentile, Head of the Health Care in Danger Project 

Pierre Gentile, Head of the Health Care in Danger Project

They have demonstrated their commitment in a variety of ways. Both the International Council of Nurses and the World Medical Association have become partners of the HCiD project. Other organizations, such as Médecins sans Frontières, have launched their own initiatives. Several States, including Norway and South Africa, are actively supporting the project at the global level; some are engaging with the ICRC and/or their National Society to address the issue at the national level. It should be emphasized that while the project has helped to raise awareness of the issue in many parts of the world, many States had already been working to reduce violence against health-care providers long before the project started (read about Colombia’s story). Their experience really helps to shape practical recommendations for next steps.

Ultimately, we believe that the cumulative effect of all these efforts will make the difference for patients and medical staff in conflict situations and other emergencies across the world. If you’re reading this newsletter, you’re probably already part of the Health Care in Danger “community of concern.” If that’s the case, you can find further information about the project on the HCiD online platform.

For our part, we’re now concluding the expert-consultation phase of the project and are pleased to have found not only broad consensus on the significance of the issue, but also strong commitment among the experts to tackling the issue. This helped in producing a long list of recommendations and practical measures. Recently, a workshop was held to discuss what national legislation should cover to boost the protection of health care. Many other consultations have helped us to gather input and experience from the field, which in turn have served as a basis for a number of practical resources. These include a recent publication on ambulances at risk, prepared by the Norwegian Red Cross, and recommendations from a workshop jointly organized by the ICRC and the Mexican Red Cross in 2013.

With the start of a new year comes a new phase for the HCiD project. Big challenges still lie ahead of us, particularly as all stakeholders begin to translate recommendations into concrete, context-specific actions. Local and regional stakeholders will play a key role in this process. Every contribution really does count as we strive to bring about lasting change on the ground.