An ICRC Orthopaedic Centre in Kabul, Afghanistan. Picture: ICRC/Jacob Simkin
An ICRC Orthopaedic Centre in Kabul, Afghanistan. Picture: ICRC/Jacob Simkin

Protect health workers in conflict zones, says WCPT in new pledge

WCPT has pledged its support to the international Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) campaign raising awareness of the impact of violence on health professionals in conflict areas.

The official pledge asserts that physical therapy plays a vital role in dealing with the health problems and functional limitations that are the direct consequence of armed violence and the use of landmines and other weapons of war. 
“Physical therapists may be involved in supporting emergency services providing triage, and delivering physical therapy interventions to meet both short and longer term rehabilitation needs,” said Tracy Bury, WCPT’s Director of Professional Policy. “These are often neglected components in policy and media coverage of disasters and conflict zones.” 
As part of the pledge, the Confederation has committed to:
  • promote the Health Care in Danger’s ethical principles of health care in times of armed conflict and other emergencies;
  • continue collaboration with key stakeholders committed to fostering the protection of health professionals and support personnel and the delivery of health services.
“The pledge shows our continued commitment to the Health Care in Danger initiative,” said Tracy Bury. “We’re urging our member organisations to support the initiative too.”
The Health Care in Danger project combines a public awareness campaign and the mobilisation of a “community of concern” to encourage measures to protect health workers. WCPT’s official support began in 2014, when the Confederation signed a memorandum of understanding with ICRC, agreeing that the two organisations would work together to combat violence against patients and health workers.
As part of its new commitment, WCPT produced a draft statement endorsing the set of ethical principles of health care in armed conflict and other emergencies developed by the ICRC as part of Health Care in Danger. The WCPT Board sought comments on the draft endorsement from WCPT member organisations, regions, subgroups and networks. The endorsement is due for formal approval at the WCPT General Meeting in 2019.
Ali Naraghi, head of the Health Care in Danger project, said: “Health in conflict is not only about emergency care. Access to and delivery of maternal and child care, mental health care, sexual and reproductive health care, and of course physical therapy, must be protected. This is a fundamental message that through the support of WCPT to the Health Care in Danger initiative, and particularly through its pledge, we are affirming strongly.”