Urban violence and protection of healthcare in the city

About the event

On 1 June 2021, the Geneva Cities Hub (GCH), the ICRC and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) co-organized an online event on Urban violence and protection of healthcare in the city. The objective was to focus on selected cities affected by urban violence and to hear from municipal representatives and health professionals. They shared their experiences and good practices to reduce violence targeting healthcare services.

Participants included city managers and representatives from the healthcare sector of Chicago (USA), Karachi (Pakistan) and Fortaleza (Brazil). Sami Kanaan (Vice-Mayor of Geneva, President of the GCH, Co-Chair of UCLG Working Group on territorial prevention & management of crises) and Gilles Carbonnier (Vice-President, ICRC) provided opening remarks.

The event illustrated various kinds of urban violence faced by healthcare workers. The participants presented the successful measures taken to prevent, deal with or reduce urban violence. These included identifying the causes of violence, community engagement, training of the staff and monitoring the risks of violence in real-time.

Inclusion, training, anticipation

In Chicago, “Street outreach” workers engage (potential) perpetrators of violence to de-escalate situations of violence. These can occur around healthcare facilities or involving people accessing healthcare services. “Street outreach showed great results, because we included communities in the process of reducing violence” said Norman Kerr, Director of Violence Reduction, Chicago. In the Lurie Children’s Hospital, Ms. Barbara Suplit, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, also shared the measures taken to ensure the physical and mental safety of hospital staff and patients.

Following a thorough study on the causes, perpetrators and victims of violence in healthcare settings, Dr. Lubna Baig, APPNA Institute of Public Health, Jinnah Sindh, Karachi, set up a training program, with the support of the ICRC. The program was designed to help healthcare professionals respond to violence and harassment targeting them and health care facilities. “It made a difference, because staff felt empowered and better equipped to deal with violence”, she said.

In Fortaleza, the municipality authorities have worked with the ICRC to develop an innovative “Safer Access” online platform. It provides real-time information to healthcare workers about the risks of violence in the city. According to the security context, measures are then taken to adapt access to healthcare facilities and activities of healthcare staff. Ruiz Gouveia, responsible for the implementation of Safer Access in Fortaleza recalled that “it is important to anticipate and mitigate the risks”.

The Geneva Cities Hub remains ready to support the ICRC’s continuous efforts to explore ways to engage cities on the issue of urban violence and its consequences on the delivery of and access to essential public services.

More info here: video

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