The International Committee of the Red Cross has launched a nationwide public-awareness campaign called “Bharosa Karein”, aimed at fostering respect for healthcare workers and reducing incidents of violence inside hospitals.
A ceremony to launch the three-month campaign was held in Islamabad on Monday. The event was attended by government officials, civil society and the media men.
Speaking at the ceremony, ICRC delegation head Dragana Kojic said, “Violence against healthcare is a humanitarian challenge which undermines access to and provision of healthcare services and is detrimental to the prevention and eradication of diseases.”
Violence against healthcare not only prevents the effective delivery of health-care services, it also poses a threat to the lives of healthcare personnel and patients in need of critical care.
The campaign therefore aims to raise the general public’s awareness of the need to not interfere with the work of healthcare personnel and to avoid resorting to violence no matter what, according to a statement issued by ICRC.
Many of the incidents healthcare workers face are initiated by the friends and family of their patients, so one of the goals is to provide information that will improve family members’ ability to cope with emergencies.
Public service messages about the consequences of violence in hospitals will be broadcast on TV, radio and social media. These messages reflect research done to understand the situation that health workers face and how best to reach people. The campaign can be followed with the hashtag #BharosaKarein.
Dr Zafar Mirza, the chief guest and federal health minister, said, “Healthcare personnel themselves become vulnerable at the hands of families of victims. This is a commonly observed phenomenon and it is growing. We observe it but do not do anything to tackle it.
“I am very appreciative of ICRC for taking up this issue and raising awareness about it, and I ensure continued support for such initiatives.”
The campaign draws attention to an important healthcare issue in Pakistan as part of the wider, global Health Care in Danger (HCiD) initiative to address the issue.
Mirwais Khan, head of the HCiD initiative in Pakistan, explained, “Addressing the problem of violence against healthcare calls for a multi-pronged response, including problem analysis, designing and promotion of laws and practical interventions, advocacy and awareness.”
He added, “Sustained efforts by all stakeholders for effecting a behavioral change remains the key to ensure better protection for healthcare.”
The ICRC in Pakistan is taking a multi-disciplinary approach to preventing violence against healthcare, it said further in the statement. One of the many programmes under the initiative has been to proactively raise public awareness to encourage people to be more respectful of healthcare workers and facilities in Pakistan.
These programmes include the “Rasta Dein” and “Pehlay Zindagi” campaigns launched in 2016 and 2017. They were aimed at improving respect for the right of passage for ambulances.