Amidst the global fight against the COVID-19 disease, a WHO vehicle with the United Nations emblem was attacked by the ULA/AA terrorist group on 20 April, and a WHO local staff member was seriously wounded. He was driving this vehicle on his mission to transport swabs samples from COVID-19 suspects in townships in Rakhine State to the National Health Laboratory in Yangon. He died the next day.
The Union Government and the World Health Organization condemned the attack.
“This incident once again puts the spotlight on the extreme hardships being faced by our corona warriors – our doctors, nurses, other health workforce – especially while working in security compromised and hard-to-reach areas as they continue to contribute their best to save lives,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for South-East Asia of the World Health Organization.
Unfortunately, we are also seeing cases of attacks on security personnel and local administrators who are assisting in prevention, tracing contacts and enforcing physical distancing measures including facility quarantine to stop COVID19.
We condemn all kinds of physical, verbal or psychological violence against frontline heath care workers and volunteers who are risking their lives on the frontline in the face of the infectious disease to save others.
We would like to pay tribute to the health worker who sacrificed his life for fighting the global pandemic and we would like to express sadness over attacks on all front-line health workers, security personnel and volunteers.
Investigation must be carried out into the killing of the local WHO staff as the government is committed to addressing the concerns and fears of the frontline workers battling with the pandemic. Measures must be taken to prevent recurrence of such abhorrent acts.
A pandemic like disease does not distinguish between borders and people, and if the virus is not contained it will endanger all of us.
WHO’s regional director appealed yesterday to all to facilitate the work of our health workforce who are putting their lives at risk to save other lives.
We must continue to do everything we can to protect and support the frontline health workers.