Egypt: Experts gather to tackle violence against health–care workers and facilities

18 December 2014

Cairo (ICRC) – Today, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Egyptian Red Crescent, in cooperation with Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population, held a conference for around 100 practitioners, experts and government officials to raise awareness of the serious implications of violence against health-care workers and facilities and to promote respect and protection for health services working in conflict or other emergency situations.

In many parts of the world where armed conflicts and other emergencies take place, people who need medical attention do not have access to it because health-care personnel and facilities are the target of violence. The immediate impact is evident: patients are deprived of the care they need, and medical staff are prevented from providing their services. The long-term impact is equally critical. Violence against people providing or receiving health care results all too often in the departure of medical personnel, or in the destruction or closure of health facilities, and therefore in the disruption of the entire health-care system.

"The Egyptian Red Crescent is proud to hold this conference. This is the second event to be held in Cairo on the safety and security of health services as part of the 'Health Care in Danger' project, an International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement initiative led by the ICRC," said Dr Moamena Kamel, secretary-general of the Egyptian Red Crescent. "I am sure that the shared experience of various sectors within the interdisciplinary system working in Egypt will enrich the discussions and contribute to the collective global effort to improve the safety of health-care delivery."

"Sadly, violence against health-care workers and facilities and against patients is one of the most serious challenges, in humanitarian terms, facing the world today. Medical treatment benefits everyone. All persons in need should be able to obtain it, unconditionally," said the head of the ICRC delegation in Cairo, Marianne Gasser. "This one-day conference provides an excellent opportunity to bring together doctors, nurses, heads of ambulance services and others from various ministries, organizations and institutions to underline and raise awareness of this serious issue related to health care."

Representatives of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, international and national organizations, the Egyptian authorities, foreign embassies, medical establishments and faculties, and the media attended the event.

In 2011, the ICRC and the entire International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement launched the "Health Care in Danger" project, which aims at improving the efficiency and delivery of effective and impartial health care in armed conflict and other emergencies. The project has mobilized a range of experts who have developed a series of practical measures that can be implemented in the field by decision-makers, humanitarian organizations and health professionals.
This conference is the second event relating to "Health Care in Danger" to be held in Egypt. The first took place in Cairo in December 2012.

For further information, please contact:
Mohammed Sultan, ICRC Cairo, tel: +20 100 505 33 10 or +20 225 281 540
Marwa Alaa Eldine, Egyptian Red Crescent, tel: +20 100 092 89 84 or +20 2 26703979