Pakistan: Campaign to make Karachi safer for ambulance services

11 March 2016

Karachi (ICRC) - Today, a public-service campaign was launched in Karachi to get motorists to give way to ambulances and generally increase respect for ambulance services. Joining forces for this important cause are: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Edhi Foundation, Aman Foundation, Indus Hospital, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and Jinnah Sindh Medical University. Samaa TV and Samaa FM are the media partners for the campaign. The ICRC is also planning to work with government authorities to enact legislation requiring drivers to make way for ambulances on roads.

Last November, the ICRC and its partners released the results of a study on violence against health care in Karachi. It found that, of all health-care professionals, ambulance staff were the most vulnerable to violence. In the 12 months leading up to the study, 66% of ambulance drivers had experienced either verbal or physical violence. Factors contributing to the violence included the perceived low social status of the job, a lack of coordination and ways for institutions to coordinate, and the risks involved in travelling to neighbourhoods experiencing law and order problems in order to pick up people injured in ethnic and/or political violence.

Failing to give ambulances the right of way is also a form of violence. It is violence against medical staff, but first and foremost against the patients, because it jeopardizes their survival.

For the campaign, a number of media outlets have been contacted to run public-awareness messages, host talk shows that highlight the lifesaving work of ambulance services and inform the general public of their civic duty.

Ambulance staff too have a role to play in increasing their safety. By upholding their ethics and not misusing their sirens, they can prevent their image – and that of the medical profession as a whole – from being tarnished.

The ICRC and its partners are appealing to all media outlets, bloggers and civil-society activists to help spread the word and make Karachi safer for patients, ambulance staff and all health-care professionals.

For further information, please contact:
Dr Seemin Jamali, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, tel: +92 333 2159890
Dr Lubna Baig, Jinnah Sindh Medical University, tel: +92 300 8239680
Faisal Edhi, Edhi Foundation, tel: +92 21 32424148
Abdul Mannan, Indus Hospital, tel: +92 321 3818073
Dr Mohsin Ali, Aman Foundation, tel: +92 3028292814
Najum Abbasi, ICRC, tel: +92 300 8529108