Philippine health workers victims of violence: Safeguarding Health in Conflict report

Philippine health workers victims of violence: Safeguarding Health in Conflict report
By: Thomas I. Likness
EBC News Service

(Eagle News) — More than a dozen health workers in the Philippines reported incidents of violence or threats of violence against health care last year, according to a report by the Safeguarding Healthcare in Conflict coalition.

The 14 reported incidents resulted left three health workers dead, four injured and one was kidnapped, said the coalition.

The coalition released an interactive map highlighting 1,194 such incidents worldwide last year. It says 412, were related to the pandemic. Another 802 were related to ongoing war and conflicts.

Much of the violence in the Philippines was related to the pandemic. The coalition cited several incidents in the Philippines on its interactive map.

Pandemic violence

Two incidents last year in Sultan Kudarat left a barangay health worker wounded and a nurse severely injured after being attacked by bleach.

The health worker was helping police at a Covid-19 quarantine checkpoint. The nurse had been mistaken by her attackers for a COVID-19 patient.

In Cebu city last March, two men on a motorcycle threw chlorine on a nurse on his way home.

In Misamis Occidental, a suspected NPA militant was killed while four police officers were wounded after suspected NPA militants attacked a police Covid-19 quarantine checkpoint.

In Quezon province, an ambulance driver was shot and wounded by a neighbor. The neighbor argued with the victim he should not park the ambulance in a residential district as it could be infected with the Covid-19. The driver was hospitalized and the neighbor arrested.

A health worker assigned to a Barangay-level Covid-19 response team in Abra province was wounded in gun attack by unidentified assailants as she was on her way home from duty.

Patient shot dead; doctor kidnapped

In the Calabarzon region, a drug suspect was seriously wounded in a vigilante-style attack by unidentified gunmen.

He was taken to the Angono General Hospital. Hours later while recovering, he was shot dead in his hospital bed by one of the presumed earlier unidentified perpetrator who also harassed hospital staff and threatened them.

In Sulu province, a doctor was abducted from his home. Abu Sayyaf militants are suspected to be behind the kidnapping, possibly to bring the doctor to treat wounded rebels

According to a survey by the International Council of Nurses in August 2020, health workers were not allowed to be back to the boarding places if they work in the hospitals.

The problem of pandemic-related violence is worldwide, according to the coalition. The most frequent trigger for violence was public health restrictions.

Of the reported attacks related to COVID-19 health measures, 83% were carried out by civilians like local community members, COVID-19 patients, and patient family members, said the coalition.

“Health workers have been rightfully praised as heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic, but around the world they endured disturbing levels of threats and violence from individuals but also from governments, militias, and police,” said Christina Wille, director of Insecurity Insight, which led development of an interactive map highlighting the attacks.

Few attacks reported

The coalition says the incidents it highlighted are likely only a fraction of what took place, adding the map represents a minimum estimate of threats and attacks against health workers in 2020.

Not all attacks on health are publicly reported by media, documented by non-governmental organizations, or acknowledged by governments, said the coalition in its report.

It called on governments to act immediately to safeguard health workers.

The Safeguarding Health in Conflict coalition is a group of international nongovernmental organizations working to protect health workers, services, and infrastructure.

Its mission is to raise awareness of the problem of attacks on health workers, facilities, transport systems, and clients.

It works with national and global organizations to strengthen the documentation of such attacks and hold violators accountable.

And it helps local groups to achieve the same goals.
(Eagle News Service)