ICRC suggests measures to curb violence against medics

Spokesperson says legal research likely to be conducted in Punjab hospitals soon


Umer Farooq October 08, 2017
Beds lie empty in emergency room. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: After assessing the healthcare situation in Peshawar, the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) has recommended four concrete measures to curb violence against healthcare professionals across the country.

“Legal procedures, training of doctors, safety and public awareness should be given utmost importance,” said ICRC spokesperson Najam Abbasi while giving details about the legal research conducted in Peshawar hospitals as part of its Global Healthcare in Danger (HCiD) project.

“If the law is implemented in true spirit, those who assault doctors will be given an exemplary punishment, which will ward off such attempts in the future,” Abbasi said about the first measure.

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“Doctors and paramedical staff should also be imparted training about de-escalating a situation where doctors are assaulted if a patient dies,” he said, adding that some patients are beyond saving.

About the third measure, Abbasi said, “Proper security should be provided at hospitals.”

Last but not the least, Abbasi said, “Public awareness … our public should know that the doctors always try their best to save a patient’s life. If a patient is beyond saving, it’s not the doctor’s fault.”

“Now that we have conducted legal researches in hospitals of Karachi and Peshawar, Punjab’s hospitals are likely to be our next objective,” he added.

The ICRC had recently conducted a legal research of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and Civil Hospital, Karachi to ascertain the pattern of violence against healthcare professionals. On Friday, it had released its research report for Peshawar hospitals.

The ICRC’s legal research report states despite having K-P National Disaster Management Act 2010, Emergency Rescue Services Act 2012 as well as K-P Medical Teaching Institution Reforms Act 2015, healthcare services lack cohesion, coordination and adequate protection of their personnel and volunteers.

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When contacted, K-P Director General Health Services Dr Shabina Raza said, “A health department draft is currently being vetted by the law department and will soon be promulgated.”

Legal expert Sahar Haroon said, “Law exists only in books. If we care to open them, we will have all the answers.”

ICRC Pakistan, head of delegation, Reto Stocker said, “HCiD is a global project aimed at prevention of violence against healthcare to ensure safe and efficient provision of healthcare services.”

Recently, an incident occurred at the Khyber Teaching Hospital.

“An attendant brought his brother to the hospital complaining of dengue. The attendant said he was the relative of a local nazim,” said Dr Muhammad Sajid, President of Young Doctors Association at the hospital.

“The hospital was jam-packed with patients so I asked him to ‘wait please’. My answer did not sit well with the attendant as he took out a pistol and struck me on the head with its butt.”

Such incidents occur at hospitals across the country on a daily basis.

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