Health care workers should not be targets

It has been a week since terrorists broke into the maternity ward in Dashte Barchi, Afghanistan and killed 24, including women, newborns, and a midwife, and injured 16. One woman who had tried for seven years to get pregnant watched as her newborn was shot and killed.

The maternity ward is located in a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian medical non-profit known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases.

This event wasn’t immediately “big news” in the United States. The president, first lady, Ivanka Trump, Kayleigh McEnany, or Mike Pompeo have never mentioned it. Articles have slowly started to appear in U.S. national publications while European and Asian media were reporting it the day of.

I found out about it from Doctors Without Borders’ Instagram account and immediately started to cry. I can think of only two other occasions where news made me cry: 9/11 and Heath Ledger’s death. (No judgment.)

I cried for the moms who lost their newborns.

I cried for the newborns who lost their moms.

I cried for the husbands who lost wives and the fathers who lost children.

I cried for the families who lost wives, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

I cried for the volunteers who run the hospital and work every day to provide care to one of the most vulnerable populations of women and children on the planet.

And I cried because there are still people who think that others have no value.

Not just miles away in Afghanistan, but even here in the U.S., health care workers are coming under attack for warning us about COVID-19, begging people to wear masks and physically distance, and asking us to avoid gathering in large groups. While we don’t have terrorists storming into hospitals and shooting them up, we have groups of people putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk under the guise of protesting.

Yes, there are so many things wrong with our health care system. One of the things that is right with it is the amazing people working to provide care and guidance, here and everywhere else on Earth.

Health care workers should not be targets.

Hospitals should not be targets.

Lori E. Johnson is a health care administrator. 

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