To Go Or Not to Go to Cebu City: DOH, Doctors to the Barrios Can't Agree

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III recently ordered the reassignment of Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) to Cebu City, whose healthcare system is "overwhelmed with (COVID-19) patient load at the moment."

Part of the Department of Health's (DOH) statement read, "The DTTBs will be temporarily assigned to Cebu City to provide critical relief as part of the national response to the emergency situation.

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"This temporary assignment is not new as DTTBs have been temporarily redeployed in the past under similar emergency situations such as the Marawi siege and the Super Typhoon Yolanda response."

The DOH clarified it will be rural health physicians — not municipal health officers — who are part of the redeployment, to ensure the availability of doctors and healthcare services in their respective municipalities.

It seems the directive doesn't sit well with the DTTB, particularly Batches 36-ALAB and 37-MANDALA. They are strongly condemning the transfer, even calling it an "abrupt exploitative order" in their own statement.

The group cited several reasons for their opposition: "the involved doctors have not been suitably informed through writing, (and) no proper consultation with the stakeholders was done prior to this directive."

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A clear violation of the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, the temporary assignment also lacks detailed safety guidelines and protocols, not to mention it defeats the DTTB's purpose — to fill the need for physicians in rural areas.

"We hope that DOH will consider this before it is too late, before the apathy and lack of accountability by their leadership completely smother the flames of passion and service of an entire generation of doctors."

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