Protecting the safety of health professionals


Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas, municipal health officer and an alumnus of the Doctors to the Barrios program, was fatally shot on March 1, 2017.

As promoters of health and preservers of life, health professionals–doctors, nurses, midwives, and others–deserve to be protected.

However, due to a variety of reasons, health professionals become victims of undue pressure leading to violence and harassment. Some even to the point of death.

On March 1, homebound after a medical mission in Lanao del Norte, Philippines, municipal health officer Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas was gunned down by a yet-unknown assailant, killing him instantly. A much-loved doctor, his loss was much mourned and triggered calls for justice in social media.

Additionally, on April 18, while inside his clinic in Cotabato, Philippines, ophthalmologist Dr. Shahid ‘Jaja’ Sinolinding and his security escort were shot by an assailant who had posed as a patient. His demise has put an end to the free cataract operations he had been offering to the poor of his province.

But this phenomenon isn’t just a problem restricted to the Philippine context. Assaults and threats to health professionals also occur in other countries.

On January 20, 2015, Boston cardiac surgeon Dr. Michael Davidson was fatally shot by an assailant who subsequently took his own life. And, in Nashville, Tennessee, nurse Tiffany Ferguson, who had shown promise and unique dedication in her chosen profession, was stabbed to death in her own residence on March 2.

Important to mention too, are the hundreds of doctors, nurses and other professionals serving in war-torn areas, who are caught in the crossfire.

These deaths and other incidents of harassment and other acts of violence, highlight the vulnerability of health professionals to threats to personal safety. Since it is the avowed duty of health professionals to protect the lives of others, wouldn’t it be more of a moral obligation and a public responsibility to look after their welfare and safety as well?

On this Saturday’s #HealthXPh tweetchat, we will discuss the following topics:

T1. What are the possible sources of threats against health professionals?

T2. What mechanisms are in place to address threats to personal safety of health professionals?

T3. What efforts should be improved to secure health professionals?

Join us this Saturday, April 22, 9PM PH Time, 9AM US EST! Please use hashtag #HealthXPh. See you there.