DOH to ‘revisit, amend’ Magna Carta of Public Health Workers

Jee Y. Geronimo

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DOH to ‘revisit, amend’ Magna Carta of Public Health Workers
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial's directive comes after the death of former volunteer doctor and municipal health officer Dreyfuss Perlas

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial instructed her department to “revisit and amend” the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers after the killing of Dreyfuss Perlas, a physician who had been deployed to Lanao del Norte under the government’s Doctors to the Barrios program.

Ubial’s directive seeks to “reinforce benefits and security provisions that could ensure the safety and protection of health workers, particularly those deployed in hardship posts in geographically isolated and depressed areas, and localities identified as high risk for violence.”

Perlas was shot dead while riding his motorbike in Barangay Maranding Annex on Wednesday night, March 1. (READ: DOJ to NBI: Probe death of volunteer doctor in Lanao del Norte)

The municipal health officer of Sapad, Lanao del Norte came from a medical mission and was on his way home to Barangay Maranding Annex where he was renting a house. 

Ubial learned from Perlas’ family that the doctor was already considering leaving Sapad “because of some threats.”

“Dr Dreyfuss already informed them when he went home last December that he might opt to go for residency and leave Sapad because of some threats, so December pa lang, meron nang ganoong idea ‘yung family (so as early as December, the family already had that idea),” she told reporters on Monday, March 6.

The Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, Ubial said, does not have a specific item on safety, but there are items on hardship allowance, hazard pay, and overtime pay.

“However, not all of those provisions are actually provided uniformly across the country. So there are some [local government units] that provide all the benefits, but other LGUs do not provide all the benefits,” she added.

Some LGUs even provide health workers with security training, Ubial said as she recalled her experience when she was deployed to Cotabato City. 

She said they learned about what they should do during a bombing, and were taught how to use firearms. They were also given a handheld radio so they could contact security personnel “24/7.”

“May mga LGUs talaga na mayroon nang provisions (There are really LGUs with provisions) to safeguard their health workers. So we’re looking into that, how to make that uniform across the country,” Ubial added. – 

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.