Urgent action demanded to combat violence against health personnel

Urgent action to combat the rising tide of violence against health personnel in every region of the world has been called for by the World Medical Association. On the opening day of the World Health Assembly today (Monday), the WMA presented a statement describing the situation as an international emergency that was intolerable.

The statement declared: ‘Over the last decade, we have seen a surge of violence against health personnel worldwide. Since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, this phenomenon has expanded dramatically. Every day, our medical associations report incidents: threats, insults, stigmatisation from communities and states. In some countries, physicians are victims of reprisals for denouncing undignified working conditions, the blatant lack of medical equipment, or for criticizing their government pandemic responses’.

The WMA called on the World Health Organisation and member states to assess the magnitude and gravity of what it described as this ‘scourge’, to ensure adequate accountability against perpetrators of violence and to undertake systematic data collection on violence incidents in relation to the pandemic. In addition, information to the public must be transparent, complete and accessible to stop misinformation related to covid-19 contamination.

‘It is time to realize that violence against health personnel has adverse cascading impacts on the life of each of us. Physicians and other health personnel members need protection and safe working conditions in a solid health system. Member states are accountable for making this happen’.