WHO Publishing Report Next Year on Violence Against Health Workers
According to WHO's Dec. 7 announcement, from Ukraine to Afghanistan, 603 health workers were killed and 958 injured in 2014 attacks in 32 countries, according to data compiled by the WHO from various sources.
The World Health Organization announced it will publish its first global report on attacks against health care workers next year. They are a serious societal problem, but data on attacks against health workers has been piecemeal, and there has been no standard way of reporting them, according to the UN agency.
"Protecting health care workers is one of the most pressing responsibilities of the international community," said Jim Campbell, director of WHO's Health Workforce department. "Without health workers, there is no health care."
According to WHO's Dec. 7 announcement, from Ukraine to Afghanistan, 603 health workers were killed and 958 injured in 2014 attacks in 32 countries, according to data compiled by the WHO from various sources. WHO has developed a new system for collecting data that is being tested in the Central African Republic, Syrian Arab Republic, and West Bank and Gaza Strip. It will be available for use early next year. "Every time a doctor is too afraid to come to work, or a hospital is bombed, or supplies are looted, it impedes access to health care," said Erin Kenney, who manages the WHO project that has developed the new system.
Beyond collecting data, the project will use the information to identify patterns and find ways to avoid attacks or mitigate their consequences.
WHO reported 32 health care workers and other personnel involved in polio eradication have been killed in Pakistan since 2012, but there have been fewer incidents since vaccinators switched from four-day campaigns to one-day campaigns and studied the safest times to dispatch vaccinators. "It's being clever about the way we do things," Kenney said. "We're negotiating access routes so we can get people in and out, evacuate hospitals, and pre-position supplies so hospitals can be resilient."
Also, during West Africa's Ebola epidemic in September 2014, a team of eight workers trying to raise awareness about the outbreak were killed in Guinea. More than 400 health workers lost their lives after becoming infected while treating Ebola patients.