Violence Against Health Professions a Significant Public Health Challenge

A rising tide of violence against physicians and health professionals is being reported to the World Medical Association.

Physician leaders from Central and South America, from India and Bangladesh, and from Germany have all recently reported incidents of physicians being assaulted and even killed.

Now the WMA is calling for security posts to be provided in all healthcare facilities to combat the incidents of violent attacks against healthcare professionals and facilities.

WMA President Dr. Miguel Jorge said: ‘Violence has become a significant public health challenge. Attacks on healthcare facilities, healthcare personnel, and the sick and wounded are in direct breach of medical ethics, international humanitarian and human rights laws.’

In a new policy statement published on its website, the WMA says that although many countries accept the need for violence prevention programmes they still faced many challenges. These included inadequate or non-existent reporting of data, inadequate investment in prevention programmes and support services for victims of violence, and failure to enforce existing laws against violence.

‘These failures are to do with a lack of leadership, and social determinants such as unemployment, poverty, health, gender inequality, and poor access to educational opportunities’, said Dr. Jorge. ‘So we are proposing a series of measures, including the provision of security posts and efficient surveillance in all healthcare facilities.

‘It is time that governments demonstrated their political commitment to tackle the shame of violence on our health services.’