Wednesday, November 29, 2023

As with most crimes, aggression against health workers goes unpunished

Federal lawmakers claim that 94% of attacks on doctors, nurses and other medical personnel in Mexico go unpunished and are calling for authorities to take the assaults seriously.

Federal human rights officials say there have been 52 reported cases of assault on medical staff in 22 states.

Yet members of the Permanent Commission of Congress, which sits when Congress is in recess, say that only three people have been arrested in those cases. 

They noted that the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) alone has registered 21 attacks on nursing personnel in 12 states.

Nurses and women are the most frequent targets, the commission says, noting that 80% of attacks have been committed against nursing personnel, of which 70% were women. Seven such attacks have occurred in Jalisco alone. 

“The form of the attacks is varied: they spray [bleach], deny them access to public transportation or commercial establishments, and even make death threats with firearms,” ​​members of the commission said.

There have also been threats made to hospitals themselves dating as far back as April, when residents of the town of Axochiapan, Morelos, threatened to burn down their local hospital if it accepted patients infected with the coronavirus.

In Nuevo León, an unidentified person poured a flammable liquid on the doors of a new hospital in Sabinas Hidalgo while in Villa de las Rosas, Chiapas, people armed with sticks and stones vandalized a hospital and burned an ambulance as medical staff ran and hid from the enraged mob.

In Las Margaritas, Chiapas, townspeople beat a doctor whom they accused of not having cared for a patient who died of the coronavirus. 

Hospitals in Tecamachalco, Puebla, and the sate of México have also been damaged.

In April, not long after the assaults began to increase in frequency, the office of the United Nations in Mexico decried attacks against health personnel and highlighted the importance of their work.

Violent assaults on medical personnel and hospital infrastructure have triggered the deployment of police and nearly 2,000 members of the National Guard to guard 176 IMSS hospitals across Mexico. Some 232 soldiers have been dispatched to protect eight other hospitals and 38 warehouses where medical supplies are stored.

Source: El Financiero (sp), La Silla Rota (sp), El Dínamo (sp)

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