Alarm Expressed Over Arrest of Nurses and Physicians

(11.05.2011) The world's nurses and physicians express alarm and distress at the arrest and charges against health professionals in Bahrain.

Geneva, Switzerland, 11 May 2011 - The International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the World Medical Association (WMA) are greatly alarmed at the arrest of 24 nurses and 23 physicians in Bahrain, charged by government authorities with ‘anti-state activity' for providing care to injured protestors.

‘It is unacceptable to impede health professionals in fulfilling their ethical and professional duty to provide care for all who need it. Such actions go against governments' responsibility to ensure that appropriate conditions exist for health professionals to provide care to the sick and injured in times of conflict as in times of peace', declared the President of the International Council of Nurses, Rosemary Bryant.

‘Despite solid standards included in the Geneva Conventions to protect health professionals and facilities as well as patients, we record unacceptable violations worldwide. There is now an urgency to act at the international level and explore mechanisms to prevent and address these violations. We expect WHO to provide a clear leadership in that respect', stated the President of the World Medical Association, Dr. Wonchat Subhachaturas.

The ICN and WMA jointly call for an immediate, independent external investigation so that nurses, physicians and the other health professionals can practice their professions in accordance with the ethical, health care and human rights commitments that underpin their professions.