International, National Action Needed To Stop Violence Against Health Care Facilities, Workers

Global Health NOW: Overdue Action Needed to Stop Attacks on Health Care
Leonard S. Rubenstein, director of the Program on Human Rights, Health, and Conflict at the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and core faculty at the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health and Berman Institute of Bioethics

“…The actions needed to stop the violence [against health care facilities, medical personnel, and patients] vary by context, but a number of steps would go a long way toward addressing the problem. Ministries of Defense have a key role to play in establishing doctrine and training soldiers to protect and respect health care. Ministries of Health need to be more aggressive in acting as interlocutors with defense ministries, providing support to health facilities and personnel, building trust in communities, and cooperating with the WHO’s new initiative to collect data on attacks. Governments must reform their laws to stop punishing health workers for providing care to claimed enemies or terrorists. And there must be consequences for those who breach the norms and international law. Diplomatic pressure must be brought against perpetrators of attacks, and weapons sales to them must cease. … Thorough, independent investigations of possible violations must be undertaken by governments. If they fail to do so, international investigations should take place — all leading to accountability. Stopping violence against health care is hardly straightforward. But unless serious action begins to end impunity, it will continue…” (3/31).