UN called to act to protect nurses against violence

International Council of Nurses urges United Nations to adopt measures to protect healthcare workers

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has today (May 4) called on the United Nations security council to help safeguard healthcare workers globally.

The ICN, a federation of national nurses' associations representing nurses worldwide, has signed a joint statement with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as part of the Health Care in Danger project.

The statement urges security council member states to reaffirm international humanitarian law and adopt specific measures for the protection of healthcare.

It condemns all forms of abuse and violence against nursing personnel, ranging from aggression to sexual harassment and murder, stating that globally, nurses are particularly at risk from workplace abuse. It also says that excessive workloads, unsafe working conditions and inadequate support can be considered forms of violence and incompatible with good practice.

The ICN urged national nursing associations to support the statement by actively:

Making the public and the nursing community aware of the various forms of violence against nursing personnel.

Ensuring access to counselling services for nurses who have been victims and perpetrators of violence.

Introduce and maintain appropriate security measures and grievance procedures.

Support nurses in accessing legal support when appropriate.

ICN’s chief executive officer Frances Hughes, said: ‘It is critically important that we protect healthcare workers in order that they may exercise their duty to care for all, in times of peace as in times of conflict and unrest.

‘We need to ensure attacks are well tracked and documented; that those who attack or prevent healthcare are held accountable and brought to justice; and that the existing humanitarian laws are upheld. This UN security council resolution demonstrates to the world that this serious humanitarian problem needs to be addressed at the highest level.’

Click here to read more about the Health Care in Danger project.

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