Below are WADEM’s Position Statements as adopted by the Board of Directors.
WADEM believes that all health care workers have the right to work in safety. For emergency responders to provide the best possible care to the community they need a safe, non-threatening environment that is respected by the community, family members, and bystanders. WADEM encourages the protection of health care workers against all threats or acts of violence in the workplace.
Attacks on health care include any act of verbal or physical violence, or obstruction, or threat of violence that interferes with the availability, access, and delivery of curative and/or preventive health services in any environment. These attacks endanger health care providers while depriving patients of their right to health care. These attacks may not only affect the clinical outcomes of patients, but, also, may affect their ability to care for themselves and their families, to participate in gainful employment, and to achieve their highest level of productivity.
Incidents of work-related violence have occurred worldwide. From 2014-2015, 44 out of every 1,000 Australian paramedics suffered some form of assault.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States of America estimates that 2,600 EMS workers received hospital treatment in 2014 for injuries resulting from work-related violence. A recent study reviewing the impact of violence against paramedics across 13 countries, reported that 65% of responders had been assaulted.2 The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that from 2002 to 2013, the incidents of serious workplace violence (those requiring days off for the injured worker to recuperate) were four times more common in health care than in private industry on average.3
The World Health Organization (WHO) issues a quarterly Attacks on Health Care4 dashboard with statistics of injuries and deaths in complex humanitarian emergencies. These data include out-of-hospital and in-hospital attacks reported through information that is publicly available, and from relevant WHO country offices. In 2017, there were reports of 322 health care attacks in 20 countries, including 65 in the prehospital setting, and 154 in a health care facility; 93 of the reported attacks were on health care providers and 10 were on patients.
One direct effect of work-related violence is the strain placed on health care delivery. Affected workers may be unavailable to work due to recuperative needs following an attack, and some workers may elect to abandon their health care career after years of education and experience. There is also a flow-on effect in terms of adverse mental health outcomes for emergency responders, with heightened rates of suicide and self-harm compared to the general population. The loss of dedicated, highly trained and educated health care providers in either of these ways is unacceptable. Furthermore, on-the-job assaults and threats may complicate the recruitment retention of future health care workers.5
WADEM supports the WHO Attacks on Health Care Project in all environments, in the developed and developing world, as well in complex humanitarian emergencies (CHE) to:
Adopted by the Board of Directors on 4 February 2019.
The mission of WADEM is the evidence-based improvement, education, and advocacy of emergency and disaster health care and disaster risk reduction. The accurate and transparent release of public health information is necessary to inform response and recovery activities associated with disasters.
The resolution to adopt the international health regulations in 2005 recognized the World Health Organization's leadership in monitoring and responding to public health emergencies.1
Preservation of global health security is reliant upon timely reporting of emergencies and health threats to enable appropriate preparedness and response.2
Withholding, suppression, delayed or deliberate inaccurate reporting of public health information presents a risk for potential health threats to populations. The restriction of epidemiological health information hampers efforts to respond to events.3
The transparent and timely release of public health information is logical, ethical, and required to maintain and improve global health.
As such WADEM endorses that:
Adopted by the Board of Directors on 8 December 2017.
Climate change is affecting disaster risk and disaster impact. WADEM recognizes climate change as an issue of global concern. It is WADEM’s responsibility to support the capacity of emergency management, humanitarian, and health professionals to address the disaster impacts of climate change.
WADEM supports health improvement activities, with emphasis on health promotion during and following a disaster to reduce the effects of climate change, achieved by cooperation among and between multidisciplinary professions involved in research, education, management, and practice in prehospital, emergency, public health, and disaster health care.
The United Nations General Assembly has encouraged the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to continue to assess the adverse effects of climate change upon communities and recognises the need for implementation of disaster risk reduction programmes.1 The Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation2 and the Fifth Assessment Report produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change3 provide an updated review of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change and reported consensus on emerging risks associated with climate change; as such it represents an emerging threat to the health status of communities. Impact categories identified by these reports relative to disaster risk include:
The Lancet Countdown on tracking progress on health and climate change is an international, multidisciplinary research collaboration which aims to track the health impacts of climate hazards, health resilience and adaptation, health co-benefits of climate change, and calls for mitigation and broader political engagement.4
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), a 2015 UN landmark agreement, outlines priorities for action while identifying climate change as both a driver of disaster risk and as an influencing factor of disaster impact and sustainable development.5 As a result, WADEM:
Adopted by the Board of Directors on 24 April 2017.