The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday, March 29, condemned the acts of harassment and discrimination against health care workers amid the COVID-19 crisis.
In the past few weeks, incidents of some health care professionals being victimized and subjected to acts of violence have been reported across the country.
The DOH, in particular, denounced an attack on a nurse in Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao’s Soccsksargen region. The front-liner’s face was reportedly doused with bleach by five individuals who ganged up on him
It added that there are reports of workers being refused access to public transportation and laundries. They are also being blocked and fined at checkpoints, and even evicted from their homes.
“We denounce the acts of physical assault, harassment, and discrimination committed against our fellow health care workers. These acts cannot be tolerated,” the department said in a statement.
It added, “We are mobilizing our own personnel in efforts to ascertain more details and hold perpetrators of these attacks liable and reporting these incidents to the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 for proper investigation and resolution.”
The agency also urged the Philippine National Police, the Department of Transportation, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and local governments to protect the country’s front-liners.
“We appeal to the public to extend understanding and compassion to our health care workers. Our health care workers have responded to our country’s need with dedication, courage, and selflessness. This is not the time for us to turn our backs on them,” the DOH said.
“It is not enough that we thank them. We need to protect them too,” it added.
The DOH assured everyone that health care workers are taking extra precautions to ensure infection prevention and control.
“Health care workers who are PUIs (persons under investigation) and PUMs (persons under monitoring) are following protocol, taking steps to isolate themselves even from their loved ones,” the agency said.
As of writing, there are a total of 1,546 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, with 78 fatalities and 42 recoveries.