Protection for frontliners
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - April 1, 2020 - 12:00am

The DOH strongly condemns the maltreatment and discrimination experienced by some healthcare frontliners. In Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat, five men who noticed the St. Louis Hospital uniform of Ritchie Estabillo splashed him with bleach. A patient under investigation (PUI) supposedly died at the said hospital. He was on his way to work when he was attacked. Able to still drive himself to the hospital, he immediately sought medical attention especially for his eyes. Fortunately, he did not end up blind.

Other healthcare frontliners have also experienced discrimination and maltreatment such as refusal to use public transportation. Others are even being evicted by their landlords. Some laundromats don’t let them wash their clothes there. Some eateries have also refused serving them. As if they are the ones infected with COVID-19.

This is how blatantly impolite and quick to cause harm people have recently become. Aside from profanity, this is what ails today's society, physical harm on others. The frontliners in the hospitals are already putting themselves in harm's way no matter what. Several hundred doctors and nurses have recently heeded the call of the government to lend a hand in the fight against COVID-19 but offered them pittance despite a huge budget allocated when emergency powers were given to the president. Proof that this administration does not hold healthcare workers as important as police and soldiers. Hopefully, the PNP catches the five who threw bleach at Estabillo. I hope they get caught and put in jail where social distancing is not possible.

Those who discriminate against frontliners are ignorant of the danger they face every day fighting an unseen enemy. Not everyone is grateful for what they do. If these frontliners do not work, who will replace them? Just like the doctor who died in a plane that burned before taking off at NAIA on Sunday night. Dr. Nicko Bautista was on that mercy flight to Haneda, Japan, to ferry a patient. Eight of them were killed.

I ask everyone to provide protection to our healthcare frontliners. Whether it is a doctor, nurse, technician, aide, staff or hospital maintenance. They are all equally important. Inform the authorities immediately of any incidents of abuse, maltreatment or discrimination against them. Against anyone. Hopefully, the authorities will protect them as well.

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