How to Protect Health Workers in Conflicts and Crisis


Recruiting health workers with high levels of internal motivation is critical for work in difficult conditions, where their personal security and health might be compromised, according to new research published today in Health Policy and Planning.

Health workers often witness the deaths of friends and colleagues during conflict situations and also face abduction, injury and death, themselves. Life history interviews with 26 health workers who lived through conflict in Northern Uganda reveal their resilience and how they coped by building trusting relationships with the community, seeking support from managers and elders, and finding strength from their faith and commitment to serve their community.

Namakula and Witter propose the following solutions to help protect and keep staff motivated during and after times of crisis, when they are likely to feel disconnected from social and professional support systems, lack supplies and face an increased work load with limited pay and personal insecurity:
•    Community support
•    Appreciation by supervisors
•    Effective working conditions
•    The opportunity to learn and develop new skills
•    Formal promotion and recognition of their contributions in a dangerous situation
•    Employment benefits such as food, accommodation, transport and free healthcare
•    Good leadership and communication in the workplace
•    Regular and adequate pay
•    Flexible working and inclusive management

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