WMA welcomes strongest statement yet on violence against health


(21.12.2014) Commenting on the recent United Nations General Assembly resolution urging governments to act to ensure the safety of health workers, the World Medical Association President Dr. Xavier Deau welcomed the new UN Resolution on “Global health and foreign policy".

‘I welcome the fact that we are ending the year with the strongest statement yet from the UN on the issue of attacks on health workers’, he said. ‘The past year has seen yet more deaths and injuries among health workers whose only job has been to care for patients in often extremely difficult circumstances’.

He said that whether under conditions of war or in peace health care facilities must be free from violence. They should never be under attack and health personnel should never be threatened or intimidated. The UN resolution was in line with recent initiatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization to protect health care against violence, which the WMA strongly supported.

Dr. Deau added: ‘Although this resolution is a step in the right direction - a step the WMA has lobbied for - much more needs to be done.

‘It is important that in the year to come we continue to monitor these attacks wherever they occur and collect data so that governments and other conflict parties can maximise their efforts to protect health workers, health facilities and patients. In this way we can help to bring to justice those responsible for these appalling attacks.

‘The G20 Leaders' summit last month acknowledged the need to address Ebola and strengthen health systems. That requires a safe environment for health providers and their people requiring care. The preceding WMA H20 summit heard of the challenges for health of armed conflict and the grim, dangerous tasks of aid organisations like the ICRC in providing this.

‘Unless governments and other conflict parties take immediate action, health systems and health facilities around the world will be further weakened and as we have seen with Ebola in West Africa, this can have disastrous consequences across the world’.