Health Care in Danger

Protecting Healthcare Workers from Violence

Health Care in Danger (HCiD) is an ICRC-led project of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement started in 2012. It aims at improving the efficiency and delivery of effective and impartial health care in armed conflict and other emergencies.

Within the framework of the initiative, medical ethics constitute a major area of cooperation between the ICRC and the World Medical Association (WMA). This was formalised by a Memorandum of Understanding signed on the 26th of June 2013. With this agreement, the WMA aims to cooperate closely with the ICRC within the framework of this project, especially by addressing the responsibility of healthcare personnel in armed conflicts and other emergencies.

In June 2015, civilian and military healthcare organisations, including the WMA, adopted the first-of-its-kind code of ethics, the “Ethical Principles of Health Care in Times of Armed Conflict and Other Emergencies“. The first principle provides that “Ethical principles of health care do not change in times of armed conflict and other emergencies and are the same as the ethical principles of health care in times of peace”.

The HCiD initiative has highlighted six priorities where the steps from the commitment to meaningful action needs to be prioritised by all those concerned. For each of these priority areas, recommendations and practical measures were identified to assist the different stakeholders to take action.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, global organisations have joined their voices in a call for protection of healthcare workers from violence: 13 medical and humanitarian global organizations representing more than 30 million healthcare professionals have issued a declaration condemning increasing incidents of attacks against health workers and facilities.

Violence against health care: Current practices to prevent, reduce or mitigate violence against health care

From May to July 2021, the International Council of Nurses (ICN), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Hospital Federation (IHF) and the World Medical Association (WMA) – four international umbrella organizations  members of the global Community of Concern of the Health Care in Danger initiative – carried out a joint survey to evaluate the perceptions of violence against health care during the early stages of the pandemic and to identify good practices implemented to prevent, reduce or mitigate incidents according to country’s circumstances and health personnel’s perspectives. The collaboration aimed to raise awareness of this global issue and identify strategies and actions implemented by representatives and members from all four organizations to address and mitigate violence against healthcare. It provided an excellent opportunity for disseminating the learning and good practices from the health sector and operational teams and encouraging actors from the field to adopt the strategies to overcome the challenges.

Access to the report
The impact of Covid on violence against healthcare – A global dialogue for peer exchange of good practices (Webinar of 1st December 2022)