Attack on Indian doctors highlighted by World Medical Association

According to a recent WHO report, nearly 600 violent incidents against health facilities in 19 countries took place in 2014 and 2015. In the first three quarters of 2016, 198 such incidents against healthcare were reported

Dr Ardis Hoven (right) Chairperson of World Medical Association

As medical professional in India, are raising their voices and taking to the streets, against the rising threat of attacks on doctors, an alarm has been sounded by the ‘World Medical Association’ about an increase in violence against the caregivers. Doctors around the world, who have gathered in Geneva, have also issued a warning over this rising threat.

The issue of rising attacks on medical professionals was raised by none other than chairman of the World Medical Association, Dr Ardis Hoven.

Dr Hoven, who was addressing a Health Care in Danger event on the side-lines at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva on Monday (May 22), said that violence in healthcare was occurring on a daily basis across China and India, as well as in Europe and America, where patients or relatives were trying to sort out their problems with verbal or physical abuse.

Dr Ardis Hoven (far right) with the representatives of the Swiss and Canadian governments (left)

The event in Geneva, organized by the Swiss and Canadian governments, was held to mark the first anniversary of the United Nations Security Council resolution strongly condemning attacks on medical personnel in situations of conflict. The resolution demanded an end to impunity for those responsible and respect for international law on the part of all warring parties.

Dr Hoven said: “We need to pay more attention to increasing violence in civil situations. Here, there is an urgent need for better protection. Facilities have to be secured against weapons being brought in, especially firearms and knives. Hospitals and clinics must be weapon free. And in conflict situations, health care personnel and facilities are becoming weapons of war and this must end.”

“We need better legal protection for medical and other health professionals as many countries already do for law-enforcement officers. Whoever attacks a nurse, physician or a health worker, regardless whether this is a verbal or physical attack, must know that he or she will be severely punished for it,” Hoven added.

Mumbai itself has witnessed 44 doctors attacked by angry relatives of patients from Jan 2015 till August 2016.

Dr KK Aggarwal, National President of Indian Medical Association said, “India and China are seeing maximum number of assaults on doctors. While doctors are not against being held accountable, no one has the right to indulge in violence. We need strict rules and regulations to stop assaults on doctors.”

Aggarwal suggested having standard operative procedures (SOP’s) that should be followed in all public hospitals. “In emergency and billing areas, there should be security and SOP’s should be followed. Ideally relatives should not be allowed in emergency areas but since the workload is high, it is unavoidable to have a relative in the room, the administration should ensure that the protocols are followed to avoid assaults on doctors,” said Aggarwal.