Protecting health care during SADC peace support operations

A seminar aimed at identifying best practices to improve access to essential health services during peace support operations recently brought together 17 experts from 11 southern African countries.

« When access to health care is hindered or blocked during peacekeeping missions, this prevents peacekeepers from achieving their objectives and increases the risks faced by peacekeepers and civilians alike, » said Brigadier-General (Dr) Kaka Mudambo, Coordinator of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Military Health Services Committee.

The seminar, organized by the ICRC and the SADC Military Health Services Committee as part of the Health Care in Danger project, drew on the participants’ experience and highlighted solutions they found to be effective. « This practical approach is critical to helping address the alarming lack of respect for health personnel, equipment and facilities that we continue to see in armed conflict and other emergencies, » said Thomas Merkelbach, the head of the ICRC regional delegation in Harare.

Seminar participants prepared recommendations for the SADC Military Health Services, the SADC Standby Force and SADC member States in the context of peace support operations. The recommendations focus on preparing for and responding to health-related needs and on protecting health-care facilities and equipment.

The ICRC will continue to engage state and non-state actors with the goal of building consensus and momentum on how to ensure that access to health care remains the essence of humanitarian action.

The Health Care in Danger project is an initiative of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement aimed at addressing the issue of violence against patients, health workers and facilities. Launched in 2011, the project has sponsored a series of global consultations, expert workshops, roundtables and studies for the purpose of identifying recommendations and practical measures that can make access to health care and its delivery safer in conflict and other emergency situations. The Health Care in Danger project is currently focusing on promoting the implementation of those recommendations and measures at both the global and national level.

Source : ICRC

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