Violence against healthcare workers in the middle of a global health crisis: : what is it about policy and what to learn from international comparison?


Violence against healthcare workers is a global health problem threatening healthcare workforce retention and health system resilience in a fragile post-COVID 'normalisation' period. In this perspective article, we argue that violence against healthcare workers must be made a greater priority. Our novel contribution to the debate is a comparative health system and policy approach.


We have chosen a most different systems comparative approach concerning the epidemiological, political, and geographic contexts. Brazil (under the Bolsonaro government) and the United Kingdom (under the Johnson government) serve as examples of countries that were strongly hit by the pandemic in epidemiological terms while also displaying policy failures. New Zealand and Germany represent the opposite. A rapid assessment was undertaken based on secondary sources and country expertise.


We found similar problems across countries. A global crisis makes healthcare workers vulnerable to violence. Furthermore, insufficient data and monitoring hamper effective prevention, and lack of attention may threaten women, the nursing profession, and migrant/minority groups the most. There were also relevant differences. No clear health system pattern can be identified. At the same time, professional associations and partly the media are strong policy actors against violence.


In all countries, muchmore involvement from political leadership is needed. In addition, attention to the political dimension and all forms of violence are essential.


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