Violence against healthcare workers in Mali doubled in 2022: Report

At least 26 health workers in Mali were kidnapped in 11 incidents while travelling to or from work

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Wednesday 07 June 2023
Representative photo: iStock.

Violence against healthcare workers in Mali more than doubled in 2022 as compared to 2021, a new report has pointed out. The document identified 46 incidents of violence against healthcare workers or obstruction of healthcare in the country in 2022 — an increase from 20 in 2021.

Ignoring Red Lines: Violence Against Health Care in Conflict 2022 report was published by Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (SHCC), a group of international non-profits working towards protecting health workers, services and infrastructure. It documented 1,989 attacks and threats against healthcare facilities and personnel across 32 countries and territories which are reeling under armed conflict and political instability throughout 2022.

Among 32 countries and territories, 15 countries — Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan — were from Africa.

Over half of the total attacks were reported in just two countries, Ukraine and Myanmar, the report stated.

“Over the last year, we identified a 45 per cent increase in reported incidents of violence against or obstruction of health care in conflict zones as compared to 2021,” said Christina Wille, director of Insecurity Insight. Wille led the data collection and analysis for the report.

Reported violence against or obstruction of health care decreased in the Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Syria in 2022 compared to 2021. However, cases in some countries in West and Central Africa, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Mali, have been increasing, the report noted.

At least 26 health workers in Mali were kidnapped in 11 incidents while travelling to or from work, to a non-profit base, or to remote areas to provide health care services. Over 75 per cent of health worker kidnappings occurred in the Mopti region, according to the report.

Vital medicine supplies and equipment were looted from health centres and pharmacies. Lootings were frequent in the Gao region, as was the case in 2021. Such cases were also reported from Mopti, Sikasso and Tombouctou. Armed groups stole health supplies from service fighters and communities in areas with limited health services. At least eight ambulances or ambulance motorcycles were stolen in 2022, a similar number as in 2021.

In 2022, a fifth of health centres in the northern and central regions of Mali were not functioning, while the remaining fourth-fifths were only partially functioning due to insecurity and lack of staff, according to the European Commission.

Violence against health workers led an international non-profit to suspend planned activities, including research and health surveys identifying disease prevalence. Difficulties in conducting research reduce the capacity to design effective public health policies addressing the needs of the country’s population.

The report issued a series of recommendations to the United Nations (UN) Security Council, the International Criminal Court, the UN Secretary-General, legislators of UN member states, the World Health Organization, as well as medical, nursing and public health organizations.

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