The Sindh Health Department, SZABIST, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have launched a campaign to create awareness about the right of way for ambulances and the recently passed Sindh Healthcare Service Providers and Facilities (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act 2021, targeted towards the protection of health care in Sindh.
Violence against healthcare personnel and facilities is a pressing concern in Pakistan. Research conducted by academia in Pakistan, as part of the ICRC’s Health Care in Danger (HCiD) Initiative, establishes the pervasive nature of reactive violence occurring within healthcare settings and found that it takes place mainly due to patients and their attendants being upset over waiting times, unreasonable expectations, lack of resources, overcrowding, and negligence of healthcare workers.
Speaking at the launch event of the awareness campaign for the law, Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho said, “This Act is a major step towards achieving safer healthcare in Sindh and hopes that it will deter violence and ensure uninterrupted healthcare services. I also urge our people to give way to ambulances and prioritize their right of passage.”
The new Act, among other steps, seeks to ensure the protection and security of healthcare workers and institutions, prevent violence against healthcare personnel, patients, and their attendants, prevent damage or loss to property and equipment in healthcare facilities, and ensure uninterrupted Sindh launches awareness campaign on the new law for the protection of healthcare services. It broadens the relevant legal definitions to protect healthcare workers across various cadres and healthcare settings. It elaborates on the responsibilities of healthcare workers and facilities to protect the rights of patients and their attendants.
Speaking at the occasion, Nicolas Lambert, head of the delegation for the ICRC in Pakistan, added, “This Act is a significant step towards preventing violence against healthcare in Sindh. The ICRC is grateful for the commitment and partnership of the Sindh Health Department and SZABIST in this effort, and we will continue to work towards promoting safer healthcare in the country.”
Under the HCiD initiative, the ICRC has made healthcare safer in Pakistan by promoting evidence-based initiatives in collaboration with diverse stakeholders, including public health institutions, medical academia, healthcare authorities, and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.