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Philippines - Most Dangerous Place for Health Workers, Too?
ENVI-HEALTH GROUP CONDEMNS HARASSMENT OF HEALTH CARE WORKERS
February 10, 2010
RP, most dangerous place for health workers too?
Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia (HCWH-SEA) condemns the harassment and detention of 43 health workers while in a training seminar in Morong, Rizal.
“The health care workers are doing their duty training community health workers so that health services would reach far flung areas,” said Merci Ferrer, Executive Director of HCWH-SEA.
“The military has a duty to protect our citizenry but they have no business harassing and even detaining these workers who are likewise doing their obligations.”
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) arrested 43 people including two doctors, a nurse, a midwife and some health workers and accused them of being communist rebels who were training in bomb-making. The health workers were training community volunteers.
“Reports of the dire torture that the detainees had to go through even though the military did not find any subversive materials in the health workers belongings are unthinkable,” added Ferrer. “Women and old people were not spared from this torture.”
According to reports, the detainees were forced to admit to being members of the communist New People’s Army and subjected to continuous torture.
“Unlike other doctors who flew abroad for greener pastures, these doctors and other health workers stayed and chose to serve in the country. As a matter of fact, they are serving the poor communities that are normally beset of health services. The least the military could do is pay them respect and not scare away other health workers,” Ferrer added.
“The country already has a reputation of being the most dangerous place for journalists. We must not aim for the most dangerous place for health workers category.”
“We affirm our solidarity with the detained health workers and their families. May this be the last incident of its kind.”
HCWH is an international coalition of more than 470 organizations in 52 countries, working to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on HCWH-SEA, see www.noharm.org.ph.