By Kayode Idowu

Nigeria cannot continue tolerate violence against her health care facilities and personnel as it will have far-reaching consequences on the population of the country, the Deputy Head of Delegation of International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC), Jean-Francois Queguiner has said.

Queguiner gave the charge at the two-day national roundtable on Health care in Danger (HCID), organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), which drew to a close in Abuja on Thursday.

The ICRC boss, in a statement issued on Thursday was said to have said at the roundtable, that: “Violence against health care has far-reaching consequences for the population”, and that: “The protection of the health care system starts when there is a concerted compliance to applicable rules of domestic and international law”.

“Unimpeded access to health care, as well as respect for health care workers and facilities, is of utmost importance at all times,” said Elder Bolaji Akpan Anani, President of the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS).

He also said: “In the wake of the increasing complexities of armed conflict and other emergencies in Nigeria, the need to draw public attention to the problems that people in need of health care face daily is ever more urgent”.

In recent years, health care facilities in several locations in Nigeria came under attack and were looted or had to shut down, while health workers were intimidated or kidnapped. As a result, many communities are left without adequate access to health care due to the lack of health care staff, facilities, supplies or general insecurity in some areas.

Among other things, the workshop discussed the impact of violence against the health care system on patients, the need for impartial provision of health care, the legal framework for the protection of health care, and the need for data collection on violence against the health care system.

The event was aimed at raising awareness of the humanitarian consequences of violations against health care in situations of armed conflict or other emergencies. It will propose recommendations for greater respect of health care providers, transport and facilities.

It gathered almost 50 participants, representing Nigerian federal ministries, armed and police forces, academic institutions, professional health associations as well as national and international non-governmental organisations.