Violence against healthcare workers a ‘global crisis’

Across the world, healthcare workers are under attack. From warzones to violent patients, healthcare workers need and deserve better protection

A new report from Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (SHCC) says that acts of violence against healthcare workers in hospitals has become a “global crisis”.

Over 2021, a year when healthcare workers were under more stress than ever before, the SHCC reports that 161 medics were killed and 188 hospitals were either destroyed or damaged.

For data sourced from conflict zones, the reading was even more grim: 170 healthcare workers were kidnapped and 713 were arrested.

Protecting healthcare workers from workplace violence 

In the USA, healthcare workers are experiencing the highest levels of injuries caused by workplace violence. 

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, who is a member of the Senate Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, has introduced legislation to support healthcare workers from violence in their jobs. The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act requires healthcare employers to implement a workplace violence prevention plan to prevent and to protect their employees in the workplace.

“Our nurses, doctors, social services workers and health care professionals deserve to work in a safe environment free from violence,” said Senator Baldwin. “Health care workers have faced unprecedented obstacles just to stay healthy and do their jobs through the pandemic, and on top of it all, they have seen senseless violence against them. It is unacceptable and we must provide basic protections and safety standards to a workforce that serves people during some of their most vulnerable times.”

WHO pledges support, as hospitals struggle in Ukraine

According to Sky News analysis, there have been up to four attacks a day on medics and healthcare facilities in Ukraine, since the war began.

The World Health Organisation’s Regional Director for Europe, Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, visited Ukraine to review its various health needs.

“I am back in Ukraine to meet WHO staff, and to offer my full support to health workers and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine,” said Dr Kluge. “Even as we try to meet Ukraine’s urgent health needs today, we are also looking ahead to the future, and how we can help Ukraine’s health system build back smarter, stronger and greener. Health is not everything, but without health there is nothing.”

In the rebuilding of Ukraine’s healthcare system, the safety of healthcare workers must be at its core. 


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