An NGO report has found there were 1,172 violent acts against healthcare workers globally in 2020, with over 400 incidents of medical staff working to tackle Covid-19 being subjected to beatings, verbal insults and even detention.
The Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition’s latest report into health workers at risk of violence during the course of their service laid out how medics were subjected to targeted harassment or attacks from people who opposed their efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19 and treat coronavirus patients.
While more than 80 percent of the incidents reported involved civilians, even public officials and authorities threatened or targeted healthcare professionals for trying to fight the pandemic. The report highlighted how medical staff critical of the Egyptian government’s handling of the virus were arrested by security forces on charges of belonging to a terrorist group.
Christina Willie, the director of Insecurity Insight, one of the organizations behind the report, described the abuse facing medical professionals as a “crisis”.
Violence and intimidation against health care was a truly global crisis in 2020, affecting 79 countries.
Len Rubenstein, the chair of Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, expressed concern that the “scope of violence” against doctors and nurses affected the quality of healthcare provided and the speed of vaccination programmes that help to combat viruses, describing it as “the destruction of the fabric of health systems”.
The report called on UN member states to fully implement a resolution passed in 2019 that pledged to address violence against healthcare workers, as well as protecting medics better through their own interior and defense ministries.
The Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition comprises a number of groups, including Human Rights Watch, the World Medical Association, the International Committee of the Red Cross and John Hopkins School of Public Health, and works internationally to promote the safety of health workers.
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