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Health experts are meeting on Tuesday 3 December in London to establish practical ways to protect healthcare workers and facilities in conflict and emergency, in the first such international gathering in the UK.
Attacks on healthcare are an unacknowledged humanitarian crisis, which affects hundreds of thousands each year in the world's conflict zones because doctors have fled, hospitals have been damaged or ambulances have been targeted by hostile fire.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has highlighted the persistence of violence against healthcare in its HealthCare in Danger project, a four-year initiative to agree practical steps to prevent attacks, protect healthcare workers and improve the safety of clinics, hospitals and dispensaries.
Doctors, humanitarian organisations and military medics will gather at a one-day meeting in London on Tuesday 3 December, hosted by the ICRC, the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Red Cross.
The goals of the meeting are:
At least 921 violent incidents against healthcare personnel, infrastructure and wounded and sick people occurred in 2012 in 22 countries, according to a data gathering exercise conducted by the ICRC. However, the incidents, which included threats, killings and kidnappings, represented just the tip of an iceberg for a problem that is a worldwide phenomenon.
Key figures speaking at the meeting include: Dr Margaret Mungherera, President of the World Medical Association; Dr Abiy Tamrat, President, Medecins Sans Frontieres Switzerland; and Dr David Nott, a consultant general surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster hospital who has recently spent time working in undercover field hospitals in Syria.
The practical steps recommended at this event will set the standard for all healthcare workers operating in conflict zones. Doctors, nurses and humanitarians present will discuss their own experiences of insecurity and learn from the significant work done by the ICRC and others on protecting healthcare against attack.
Conference proceedings can be followed on hashtag #Safehealth. A panel discussion on the protection and safety of healthcare workers will take place at 12.15pm for one hour and will be livestreamed at http://presenter.qbrick.com/?pguid=5532d7d8-ed16-4725-a804-1a6b5f0c6ea1
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
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Royal Society of Medicine. "Experts gather to take practical steps to protect healthcare in conflict." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 3 Dec. 2013. Web.
12 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/269571>
Royal Society of Medicine. (2013, December 3). "Experts gather to take practical steps to protect healthcare in conflict." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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