Karachi (ICRC) – A research report on violence against health care in Karachi was launched today by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in collaboration with the APPNA Institute of Public Health of Jinnah Sindh Medical University, Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre and Ziauddin University. The launch event was attended by representatives of civil society, the authorities, law enforcement agencies, the health-care community, the emergency services and the media.
Sindh Health Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar, who also attended the event, said that the report identified problems faced by health-care providers and patients, and paved the way for improvements: "This report will guide us in the development of effective policies to better protect health care from violence and its consequences."
Doctors, nurses, paramedics, security guards and other hospital staff, ambulance drivers and staff, members of the media and law enforcement officials all participated in the research study. Dr Lubna Baig, dean of the AAPNA Institute of Public Health and chief researcher for the project, said the objectives of the study were to identify different types of violence and assess their impact on the victims. "Almost two thirds of the participants had either experienced or witnessed some kind of violence in the past year, with one third having been attacked either verbally or physically," said Dr Baig.
According to the report, verbal abuse was more common than physical violence. Patient attendants were found to be the chief perpetrators. There were incidents of abusive language, threats, shoving, and punching and kicking. A legal review was also conducted in parallel by the Research Society of International Law to take stock of the legal framework within which the Karachi health-care sector operates.
The report put forward recommendations, including on capacity building for health-care providers, improved security facilities, clear triage mechanisms and regulations in health-care facilities, closer coordination with law enforcement agencies, public awareness campaigns, legal framework improvements, psychosocial support for victims and greater community engagement.
The ICRC head of delegation in Pakistan, Reto Stocker, reiterated the ICRC's unwavering support for efforts by the authorities and other local actors to ensure that the report resulted in concrete action to improve the situation. He added: "The authorities in Karachi have really taken ownership of this initiative and demonstrated their commitment to making Karachi a safer place for both patients and health-care professionals."
For more information, please contact:
Dr Lubna Baig, APPNA Institute of Public Health, tel: +92 300 823 96 80
Saad Rehman, Research Society of International Law, tel: +92 300 955 15 55
Najum Ul Saqib, ICRC Islamabad, tel: +92 300 852 91 08