Justice for Perlas: Beef up support for rural patients and doctors
The Council for Heath and Development, the national secretariat of over 60 community-based health programs, expresses its outrage over the murder of Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas who was fatally shot last March 1 in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte.
Already, there is a shortage of medical personnel in far-flung areas. The Department of Health is trying to fill this lack by engaging the services of physicians, on a contractual basis, to serve in such areas under the DOH’s “Doctor to the Barrios” program. The DOH says the program is open to 398 doctors, but 116 of these positions remain vacant. Only a few doctors choose to serve in remote areas. The murder of Perlas is unacceptable.
Physicians who choose to continue serving in remote communities despite the end of their contract, like Doctor Perlas, are a rare breed, they must be lauded.
His efforts to bring better health services and uplift the health condition of the people he served should be given justice by the government, not only by providing continuing—and adequate—health services to patients in far-flung communities, but also by extending more support to community-based health practitioners throughout the Philippines, which means job security, provision of needed medical equipment, and safe working environment.
And despite the perils of community medicine/health work, we encourage doctors to go to the most underserved areas where their services are needed most. May Doctor Perlas and those who came before him inspire a new generation of doctors whose hearts beat for the masses. May our anguish and anger over his death turn into a burning passion to serve the people.
ELEANOR A. JARA, MD, executive director, Council for Health and Development, [email protected]
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