Kyrgyzstan Grapples with Surge in Violence Against Healthcare Workers; Hospitals Ramp Up Security Measures

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.12 - 2024 8:49 AM CET

Hospitals Ramp Up Security Measures.

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In Kyrgyzstan, a concerning rise in violence against healthcare professionals has prompted medical facilities to bolster their defenses by hiring security staff. The escalation in aggression, which includes severe injuries inflicted on doctors and nurses by patients and their relatives, is reportedly fueled by public frustration over long wait times and corruption within the underfunded public health sector, according to Radio Swoboda.

The incidents of violence have led to serious consequences for medical staff. At the National Hospital in Bishkek, the country's largest medical institution, a doctor suffered a head injury, another was diagnosed with a concussion, and a pregnant nurse was assaulted. The alarming trend has also resulted in 14 doctors resigning from the National Hospital in February alone, in protest of what they deem an inadequate response from authorities to the violence.

Bermet Baryktabasova, the head of the doctors' trade union, has called on parliamentary deputies to amend the penal code to introduce harsher penalties for those who assault medical workers, aiming to charge perpetrators not just with assault, but also with hindering medical operations. She highlighted that the fear of violence exacerbates the stress faced by already overburdened and underpaid doctors.

The majority of the Kyrgyz population is unable to afford private healthcare services, leaving them no choice but to endure lengthy queues for basic medical consultations. The state healthcare system suffers from a lack of investment in equipment and a persistent shortage of staff. Compounding these challenges is the pervasive issue of corruption, as reported by Radio Swoboda.

In response to the rising violence, Bakyt Tologanov, the chief physician of the National Hospital, announced that the hospital had contracted security personnel and installed alarm buttons in all departments to quickly alert security guards to any threats.

However, some healthcare workers have criticized these measures as inadequate. One nurse shared with Radio Swoboda, "This button works (...) only until 8 p.m., and I was beaten at night," casting doubt on the effectiveness of the hospital's newly implemented security protocols in ensuring the safety of its staff around the clock.

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