June 29, 2020
All forms of discrimination against Health Workers must end NOW!
It is been more than a month since the Medical Action Group (MAG) issued a statement calling out against all forms of discriminatory treatments towards health workers amid the Covid 19 pandemic. Based on its monitoring from March to June 2020, there are already more than a hundred health workers who have experienced discrimination such eviction from their rented apartment, refusal to convey for transportation, avoided publicly and denied entry to diner. There was also a news report of physical attack such as the case of a hospital utility staff worker from Sultan Kudarat who was doused with bleach on the face while on the way to work.
Despite undertaking life-saving work for little pay, our health workers are now suffering from humiliation, abuse and threat due to public fear of infection. The most recent report came from a nurse in Quezon City, who spoke up on social media about the alleged illegal detention imposed against them by the building administrator of the condominium she and three others are renting. Based on her account, they have been restricted by the building administrator from leaving their condominium unit when one of them was tested positive of coronavirus. Despite their assurances that they are following strict health protocols and the rest of them have been tested negative, the building administrator still refused to lift the restriction and continuously barred them from going out. She also claimed that she already missed her hospital duty for two days.
MAG has already condemned the continuing stigmatization and discrimination against our health heroes and reiterated its call on the authorities to put a stop to these despicable acts. While we commend on the efforts of the local government units by passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect the health workers and other frontliners against all forms of discrimination. But any law is only good as its implementation. What we need is the full enforcement.
The Department of Health must also take a proactive role in ensuring the wellbeing, safeguard and protection of health workers and their patients. It is time for the health department to walk its talk. Our health workers have long suffered from negligence. The Covid 19 pandemic has just exposed the dire reality of the already crumbling public health system as manifested in the lack of sufficient health budget, severe under-staffing and gross working conditions of the health sector.
The public is also equally responsible for this predicament. Despite a wave of public support including the flooding of donations to provide our health frontliners with personal protective equipment (PPEs), food supplies, and free transportation as well as the echoing praises and tributes in social media, the fear of the uncertainty makes us blind to see the hard work and sacrifices that our health workers are doing to keep us all safe. While the Philippine government has the primary duty to protect our health workers, we are all bound by legal and moral obligation not to infringe on their rights and to hamper their noble service.
They need more than compassion and respect but solidarity in this fight for our survival.
We have our lives to thank for from those who have risked their own lives for us to continuously live.