Attacks on medical teams surge in virus-hit Colombia

Attacks on Colombian medical teams have surged to the worst rate in two decades, most of whom work on the Covid-19 pandemic, the government said Monday.

There were 242 attacks on medical teams between January and September, the highest figure in the last 20 years and that, according to the government, “to a large extent were against staff caring for patients during the pandemic.”

The attacks in the South American nation marked “a 63 percent increase compared to the same period” in 2019, when there were 148 incidents and violations, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Attacks ranged from threats and discrimination to injuries to health personnel.

According to the report, care for the wounded and sick has also been hampered during this time.

About “38 percent of the cases of aggression against health workers occurred in a context related to the pandemic,” the ministry said.

Nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, technicians and assistants have come to be “accused of medical negligence or discriminated against for being considered a source of contagion,” the report said.

Likewise, in the months analyzed, there were “increased actions” by armed groups financed by drug trafficking against medical missions in the border areas.

Colombia is reeling from a new onslaught of violence on the heels of the peace agreement that achieved the disarmament of the bulk of the FARC’s Marxist rebels in 2017.

Still, there were groups that were left out of the deal; now, they dispute the control of some territories with other guerrillas and drug gangs.

The government announced the increase in attacks on medical missions as the country of 50 million people has reached one million infections (including 29,102 deaths) since it detected the first Covid-19 infection on March 6.

Colombia was under total lockdown between March 25 and September 1, before relaxing measures in the face of economic crisis. (AFP)