World Health Day: Attacks on patients and health personnel continue

Topics: National, Emergencies and Disasters Worldwide
April 07, 2014

On World Health Day, April 7, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is issuing a report on “Violent incidents affecting the delivery of health care," based on a large number of recorded cases, to raise awareness of attacks on people seeking or providing health care.

Health personnel suffered over 1,800 violent incidents during 2013. As the report says, providing health care has remained as dangerous as ever over the last two years. In addition to reporting on attacks, the study highlights lesser-known types of incidents, such as armed personnel disrupting hospital services by forcing their way in, or sexual violence against health personnel.

Attacks on or within health-care facilities represent 40 per cent of all confirmed incidents. In many cases, hospitals and health centres were bombed, shot at or looted, which often resulted in extensive damage.  In some of the incidents, medical personnel were forced to breach medical ethics, for example by being required to withhold treatment from adversaries. In others, they were subjected to direct attacks, including killing, kidnapping and threats.

The indirect consequences of threats against health personnel, which can leave entire communities without any available care, can be at least as serious as any direct use of violence.

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