By Jel Santos
Nine countries agreed to work together on ensuring that health care is safe from disruption and violence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Representatives of health ministries, medical associations, academia, military and aid organizations of the nine countries said that there is an urgent need to strengthen the preparedness of health-care systems.
The nine countries were Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines.
“Every day, medical personnel, nurses and health responders are confronted with situations of violence and other actions that disrupt the provision of health care to those who need it the most,” Maciej Polkowski, head of the Health Care in Danger (HCiD) initiative at International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said.
“This can range from deliberate attacks in cases of conflict to violent verbal abuse from a patient. These regional meetings concentrate on the ground realities in Asia-Pacific and are aimed at moving towards improved protection of health care in a very concrete, defined and hopefully, inspiring manner,” he continued.
The HCiD initiative was launched globally in 2011 by the ICRC and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to improve the protection of health care. It is a multifaceted initiative that encompasses partnerships, advocacy, and an operational approach.
The recent Asia-Pacific meeting was organized by the ICRC in partnership with the Philippine Red Cross.
From June 13 to 15, the first regional meeting was held in Makati City. A total of 65 participants attended it.
Dr. Rolanisah Dipatuan-Dimaporo, chief of staff in the ministry of health of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), said they have to be concerned with the safety and protection of health-care workers deployed in areas affected by conflict as these are the places they also cater to.
“But we also realized during the meeting that health staff in contexts other than conflict are exposed to different risks.”
Participants of the meeting committed to consolidating the good intentions and ideas into action by discussing and incorporating HCiD initiatives in their respective agencies’ strategic planning.