ISLAMABAD-Speakers on Friday stressed to train healthcare workers in skills of emergency communication to de-escalate violence, public awareness campaigns, and better community engagement.

According to the study “Violence against Healthcare Workers: A Survey across 16 Cities of Pakistan” compiled by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in collaboration with local research institutes and partners, more than one-third of the healthcare providers surveyed had experienced some form of violence in the last six months.

The large-scale survey covered 8,579 healthcare workers in 16 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Sindh, Punjab and Islamabad to determine the extent, causes and types of violence that are experienced by different levels of healthcare staff.

The survey also examines the existing policies to protect healthcare workers working across all levels and in different institutions.

Speaking at the launch ceremony of the study in Islamabad, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr. Sania Nishtar underlined the grave consequences of violence and its adverse effects on the delivery of health care.

“It is important that we, as healthcare practitioners and as attendants work on changing behaviours towards violence against health care and adopt specific multidisciplinary strategies to protect health care,” she said.

Head of Delegation ICRC Pakistan, Dragana Kojic highlighted the objectives of the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) Initiative, a global initiative to improve access to health care and make its delivery safer in conflict and other emergencies.

“When a hospital is attacked, or a healthcare worker is threatened, the result is that a mother and daughter in need of immediate care may not get it. It also means that a healthcare worker may be psychologically traumatised while in the line of duty,” she said.

The study highlights the need to train healthcare workers in skills of emergency communication to de-escalate violence, development of policies on protection of healthcare including zero tolerance for violence against health-care workers, public awareness campaigns and better community engagement.

The study was conducted in collaboration with APNAA Institute of Public Health, Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, Institute of Public Health Khyber Medical University, College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Lahore ISRA University, Islamabad and Faisalabad Medical University.

This study was possible also through the facilitation of the respective health departments, and health care personnel and administrators of health care facilities in the three provinces and federal capital.

Head of the HCiD initiative in Pakistan, Dr. Mirwais Khan said, “This is the third study that has been conducted on the magnitude and patterns of violence against health care in Pakistan.

The more we study this phenomenon, the more the data informs us that we need to address systemic gaps and strengthen trust in the health care system and the healthcare providers to reduce such instances.”

The ICRC has been working to address the issue of violence against medical personnel and facilities in Pakistan by promoting evidence-based initiatives in collaboration with government, Pakistan Red Crescent Society, health departments, leading universities and public hospitals.

This year, with the support of partners, the ICRC launched Bharosa Karein, a campaign on increasing respect for healthcare workers. The Rasta Dein and Pehlay Zindagi campaigns of 2016 and 2017 were also part of this effort and aimed at improving respect for the right of way for ambulances.