DOH says murder of physicians 'like killing people relying on doctors'

MANILA, Philippines – Following the murder of a doctor in Dinagat Islands last week, the Department of Health (DOH) condemned the string of killings committed against government doctors.

In a statement on Sunday, September 17, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said the murder of physicians – the lifeblood of health systems in their communities – affects countless others who rely on doctors for their medical needs.

"Killing a town’s physician is almost like killing the countless people who rely on this physician to ensure their health and longevity," Ubial said.

"While murdering a doctor leaves behind a bereaved spouse, children, siblings, parents, and other family and friends, it also leaves behind an untold number of people whose lives become endangered when they are deprived of vital healthcare services this doctor provided," she added.

The DOH released the statement following the murder of Vicente Soco, provincial health officer of Dinagat Islands, who was shot dead by a motorcycle-riding gunman last September 14.

The Health Alliance for Democracy, an organization of medical professionals, said Soco was the 6th doctor to be killed this year.

"The murders of these 5 doctors are heinous crimes committed by lawless elements who do not seem to comprehend or even care about the massive negative ramifications these murders have on our fellow countrymen," Ubial said in the statement.

While vowing that the DOH and law enforcers are doing all they can to protect government doctors, Ubial also encouraged ordinary citizens to help support and protect the doctors in their areas, saying that these physicians will only be truly safe when protected by members of the community.

"Our countrymen must be made to understand that a community’s doctor is not just another person with a job, but a gatekeeper of the health situation in each community," Ubial said.

"As rural physicians are figuratively the lifeblood of the health systems in their respective locales, it is a shame for a community to be remiss in amply protecting them," she added. –