Health Care in Danger: News

13-02-2014 Article

The Health Care in Danger project was discussed at the recent Red Cross Red Crescent Council of Delegates, in Sydney. Under the same umbrella, other events and workshops took place in last months.

A replica of a burnt-out ambulance at Sydney’s peaceful Darling Harbour, peppered with bullet holes and with its doors ripped off by an explosion. 

A replica of a burnt-out ambulance at Sydney’s peaceful Darling Harbour, peppered with bullet holes and with its doors ripped off by an explosion.
© ICRC / Isaac Griberg

  •  In September, experts from a range of different backgrounds met in Ottawa to discuss measures for protecting health-care facilities in times of armed conflict and other emergencies. The workshop was co-organized by the Canadian Red Cross and the ICRC, as part of the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) consultation process. A similar workshop is planned for April 2014 and will be held in Pretoria.

  • Among the measures identified at the HCiD workshop in Sydney last December were to “fast-track” ambulances, to ensure specific precautions were taken during hospital searches and in other military practices, to make sure that health care can be delivered safely. During the four-day session, army experts and military medics worked on a list of practical recommendations, which will feature in a report to be published later this year.

  • Legal experts, civil servants, members of parliament and non-governmental organizations from around the world recommended developing national legislation to protect the delivery of health care, following discussions at a HCiD workshop in Brussels. The background document is now available for download on the HCiD online platform.

  • In December, the ICRC’s UK-based team, the British Red Cross, and the Conflict and Catastrophes Forum of the Royal Society of Medicine jointly held an event for health practitioners and humanitarian workers. Participants shared their experience and advice on to how to implement the recommendations that had emerged from the various HCiD workshops.

  • The International Council of Nurses and the ICRC signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly raise awareness of the importance of safe access to health care. Read more about this initiative in an interview with David Benton, chief executive of the International Council of Nurses.

  • The HCiD project was discussed at the recent Council of Delegates, in Sydney. This is a conference held every two years for management-level staff of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to discuss significant and current humanitarian challenges. More than 150 members of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies shared best practices and dilemmas experienced in the delivery of health care. They recommended measures for improving the safety of their own volunteers and committed to advocating for greater access to health care for all. A public side event was also held to highlight the issues. A burnt-out ambulance was placed in Sydney’s peaceful Darling Harbour, peppered with bullet holes and with its doors ripped off by an explosion, providing a shocking sight for passers-by. A new publication on ambulances at risk was also released during the conference (read more).


In armed violence, health-care workers, facilities and transport must be respected and protected. For all those involved in the fighting, this means ensuring that medical personnel are not threatened or harmed and that hospitals and ambulances are not attacked, damaged or misused. © Tom Stoddart/Getty Images for ICRC

  • The ICRC launched a new series of powerful images based on real-life stories, illustrating the idea that it is possible to give the wounded and the sick timely access to health care, even in the midst of violence. The visuals were used for the first time in December 2013 in an outdoor awareness-raising campaign in Europe, developed together with National Red Cross Societies and supported by the European Commission. The images were displayed on banners in the streets and metro stations of Brussels, Amsterdam, Madrid, London, Berlin, Warsaw and Paris, reaching some 12 million citizens.

  • In November 2013, the Center for Public Health and Human Rights of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health convened 19 representatives of major humanitarian organizations in Bellagio, Italy. At the end of the conference, participants issued a call for urgent action to address violence against health care.

  • Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) launched a project called “Medical care under fire” to address threats to the safe delivery of health care. A parallel but complementary initiative to the ICRC-led HCiD project, it confirms the willingness of the international community to tackle this issue. The next edition of this newsletter will feature more information about this initiative.