ISLAMABAD-The International Committee of the Red Cross in collaboration with Pakistan Red Crescent Society on Tuesday launched a nationwide public awareness campaign called ‘Bharosa Karein’ aimed at fostering respect for healthcare workers and reducing incidents of violence inside hospitals.

The launching ceremony of the 3-month campaign was held here, attended by government officials, civil society members and the media.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, chief guest at the launch, said, “Healthcare personnel themselves become vulnerable at the hands of the 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 the ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society 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 initiative addressing the issue of violence against healthcare personnel. Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Pakistan Red Crescent Society Dr Saeed Elahi said that many hospitals had been attacked in Pakistan, sometimes by militants and at times by the patients’ attendants. Hospitals, healthcare staff and transport should be spared from violence and must be respected and protected, he said. ‘Bharosa Karien’ is a call for all stakeholders, humanitarian organisations, civil society, media and the government to do everything within their stride to protect health and aid workers who are targeted or obstructed as they set out to help the people in need,” Dr Saeed said. He said that PRCS being a partner of the ICRC in the ‘Bhaorsa Karien’ campaign will engage its volunteers in different parts of the country to sensitise the attendants in hospitals and people from different walks of life to the issue of violence against health-care personnel and services. Speaking on the occasion, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Pakistan 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 effective delivery of healthcare services, but also poses a threat to the lives of healthcare personnel and patients in need of critical care, she said.

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, she added.

Many of the incidents healthcare workers face are initiated by the friends and families of patients, so one of the goals is to provide information that will improve family members’ ability to cope with emergencies, she concluded.