Representatives from ICRC, MSF, WMA and WHO met at the World Health Assembly 2017 to jointly raise awareness on attacks against health care. They are among the members of the HCID online community which connects people around the world working to better protect medical services in conflict and other emergencies. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC
Melanie works in a research institute in Norway. Pierre is a multimedia producer in a front-line humanitarian organization in Switzerland. Sabrine is a pharmaceutical student from Algeria. Ali is a doctor based in Canada. Veronica is a health manager from South Sudan. They all belong to a virtual community of nearly 1,000 people from different countries who, despite a wide range of backgrounds, share one goal: to stop violence against health care.
"We are seeing this community grow slowly but steadily," says Chiara Zanette, the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) community manager since the online platform was launched in May 2013. "This is so encouraging given that the mobilization of committed individuals is an essential driver of change."
"The members' profiles and expertise are really diverse," she continues. "Of course there are humanitarian workers, health professionals, human rights activists and medical students. But there are also military personnel, diplomats and policy makers, and others – people who simply cannot accept violence against health care as a 'new normal' and who are interested in connecting with other like-minded people and contributing in one way or another to change the situation." Most members of this community have never met in person, but they are all connected through an online platform built around the HCiD initiative.
"At the beginning, our aim was just to create a repository of information about the issue of violence against the medical mission and protecting people's access to health care in conflict," says Chiara. "This is because those of us working on the HCiD initiative realized that there was a knowledge gap about the nature of this violence but also about initiatives successfully put in place in different contexts to respond to or prevent attacks against health-care services. Initially, the online platform offered limited possibilities for members to interact, but the situation has gradually changed."
The new online platform is designed to encourage members to consult and share available resources, to facilitate interaction among members, to give them the means to create and strengthen working relationships and to support new forms of collaboration among different types of audiences.
Chiara explains that the ambition for the community is now to capitalize on the broad range of expertise, influence and experience offered by the members and to support their role as a driving force for change.
"At the end of 2015 we conducted a mapping exercise to get a better idea of who the members are. This exercise showed that this network of individuals could be tapped for purposes of outreach and that members with specific areas of expertise and influence could form collaborative networks. Using this information, we transformed the online platform and introduced new features and new ways for members to make the community stronger".
Everything in the new online platform is designed to encourage members to consult and share available resources, to facilitate interaction among members, to give them the means to create and strengthen working relationships and to support new forms of collaboration among different types of audiences.
"I'm really proud of the platform's new look and added capabilities," says Chiara, as she gives us a quick virtual tour. We discover a user-friendly and attractive interface. Thanks to easy-to-read displays and action buttons. Members can effortlessly consult and contribute to the different pages available to them: (groups, events, chat rooms, inbox, notification system, a shared calendar, public and group wall, and profile page. There is also a resource centre, which is powered by a multi-criteria system to make uploading and searching for documents easy. Members can join existing working groups or create new ones, and they can discuss the issues – in real time – in public or group chat rooms.
The new HCiD platform will be launched in May
The new HCiD platform will be launched in May, and all current members of the HCiD online community will be automatically migrated. They will just need to complete the registration process to access the new platform.
"The community members' commitment over the years has been key to achieving the results we have today," says Chiara. "We would not have gotten this far without the work and support of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our health-care partners and all the members of this community of interest. This strengthens our belief that stopping violence against health care is possible, if we join forces and work together. And with this online community, we are making it easier for people to be part of the solution ."
Health Care in Danger is an initiative of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to make access to, and delivery of, health care safer in armed conflict or other emergencies. This initiative calls for the respect and protection of health-care workers, facilities and vehicles and the implementation of a series of recommendations and practical measures to safeguard health-care services and their humanitarian mission. This initiative is supported by a number of partners, individuals and organisations, members of the Health Care in Danger Community of Concern.
For more information about the Health Care in Danger project: