ICRC Launches Guide for Health-Care Workers On Armed Conflicts And Other Emergencies

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Geneva (ICRC) – The publication, written for all health-care workers, sets  out their responsibilities, derived from international humanitarian law,  international human rights law and medical ethics, when working in  situations of armed violence.

“Health-care workers in war-zones face a variety of challenges; some are  practical whilst others are ethical,” said Dr Robin Coupland, a medical  adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and  co-author of the guide. “How do I judge what is appropriate care if

suddenly the hospital has no electricity or running water? Are there times  when I cannot keep the identity of the patients from authorities? In a  crisis, what information or images about hospitals or ambulances can be  made available to the media?”

“‘The responsibilities of health-care personnel working in armed conflicts  and other emergencies’ is the gold standard in its field,” said Dr  Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the British  Medical Association. “It is the kind of guide any health worker in a  conflict- or violence-affected area should have in his pocket.”

To launch the publication, the ICRC is hosting an open online discussion  on hard choices and dilemmas health-care workers face in armed conflicts  and other emergencies.

The panel will be composed of Dr Coupland, Dr Nathanson, and Dr Doris  Schopper, director of the Centre for Education and Research in  Humanitarian Action.

An interactive discussion on “Choices and dilemmas – health-care workers  on the front line” will be viewable in real time on  www.healthcareindanger.org/livestream. Questions can be submitted prior to  or during the discussion on facebook.com/icrc or on twitter (@icrc,  #HCiDlive).

Practical information for everyone wishing to participate in the  discussion:

Date and time: Monday 21 January 2013 at 14.30 GMT (15.30 CET).

URL: www.healthcareindanger.org/livestream

About the authors: Dr Robin Coupland has been with the ICRC since 1989 and  has worked as a war surgeon in many conflict-affected regions, including  Afghanistan and Somalia. He is the author of “Health care in danger: a  sixteen-country study,” which concludes that violence preventing the  delivery of health care is currently one of the most urgent yet overlooked humanitarian tragedies, affecting millions.

Dr Alexander Breitegger has been a legal adviser at the ICRC since  February 2011. He holds a PhD degree from the University of Vienna as well  as the European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (EMA).  Dr Breitegger is the author of “Cluster munitions and international law:  disarmament with a human face,” recently published by Routledge. His other

publications focus on international humanitarian law, international human  rights law and international criminal law.


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