Violence against health care must end

Violence against patients and health-care workers is one of the most crucial yet overlooked humanitarian issues today. The Health Care in Danger project is a Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement initiative aiming to improve security and delivery of impartial and efficient health care in armed conflict and other emergencies.
All documents on Health Care in Danger.

THE PROBLEM : Essentials

In conflicts and upheavals worldwide, violence disrupts health-care services when they are needed most. Civilians and fighters die of injuries that they should survive because they are prevented from receiving the timely medical assistance to which they have a right. Violence, both actual and threatened, against the wounded and the sick, and against health-care facilities and personnel, is a crucial yet overlooked humanitarian issue today. An overriding problem is the widespread lack of respect for the law by parties to conflict and other armed groups.

Even wars have limits: Wounded have the right to receive medical care

The injured have the right to protection and must have access to the health care they need.

  • Health care in danger: The human cost

    The law says hospitals, ambulances and health-care workers must be protected and should never be targeted as they carry out their regular duties. This is often far from the reality. Worldwide, the lack of safe access to health care is causing untold suffering to millions of people.

  • Violence against health-care workers: An urgent problem worldwide

    On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day (19 August), this joint Op-Ed from ICRC and ECHO looks at the drastic and long-term effects that attacks on health-care staff and facilities have on the untold numbers that are deprived of the care they need.

  • Violent incidents against health-care in at least 22 countries in 2012

    A new study by the ICRC reveals that at least 921 violent incidents against health-care personnel, infrastructure and wounded or sick people took place in 2012.

  • Health care in danger: the many faces of a growing problem

    Attacks on health-care workers and facilities, and other illegal acts that obstruct their work, put the lives and well-being of millions at risk. This collection of photos illustrates the many aspects of this widespread and growing humanitarian challenge.

  • Health care in danger: making the case

    This publication draws attention to one of the most crucial yet overlooked humanitarian issues of today: violence against health care. Attacking health-care structures and personnel, and ambulances – as well as deliberately obstructing the efforts of the wounded to find help – are common features of conflicts throughout the world.

  • Health Care in Danger: what is it and why is it important?

    ICRC director-general Yves Daccord gives his personal view as he attends a photo exhibition on the theme during the London Olympics. Images by Tom Stoddart show the dangers facing medical staff and patients in war zones.

  • Health care in danger: a sixteen-country study

    Health care is frequently suspended, withdrawn or rendered impossible by violent events. Thousands of wounded and sick people can be denied effective health care when hospitals are damaged by explosive weapons or forcibly entered by fighters, when ambulances are hijacked and when health-care personnel are threatened, kidnapped, injured or killed.