Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rifles, Whiskey and Amputations

Photos of smiling men and women in medical scrubs, some with rifles and others with an alcoholic beverage, were published on the Facebook page of the Puerto Rican Senate. One of the photos even showed a doctor holding a saw, as seen above, as he was about to perform an amputation. These images appeared under the album title "Salvemos Haití" (translation: "Let's Save Haiti"), and they were taken in Jimaní, a town in the Dominican Republic bordering Haiti. The people posing on these photos were doctors and nurses hired by the Puerto Rican government to help provide medical assistance to earthquake-stricken Haiti. Described as "indignantes" (indignant), "insensibles" (insensitive) and "explícitas" (explicit), the publication of these photos has created a tremendous amount of controversy throughout the world.

When I saw the headline: "Haití: Polémica fotos de puertoriqueños" ("Haiti: Controversial Photos of Puerto Ricans") on the BBC Mundo website, I knew this was a huge mess. My initial reaction was, ok, maybe these photos have been photoshoped and it's just some sort of hoax. I suppose this was wishful thinking. It's just unconscionable how anyone, least of all medical personnel, can take these photos. Worst of all, they even uploaded them onto Facebook. Obviously, what these people did showed a lack of better judgement and stupidity. Puerto Rican government officials are reportedly looking into this matter, some are calling for the suspension of the medical licenses of these doctors and nurses. The Dominican military was said to have detained the soldiers whom allowed their weapons to be used as props in these photos. Despite this huge controversy, let's bear in mind of the many other Puerto Rican doctors and nurses who did not partake in such photo sessions, and have truly been helping the victims of this tragic earthquake.

Update (3/29/10): According to the local medical licensing and disciplinary board on the island, the photos were "taken out of context." Thus, the doctors and medical personnel who appeared in these photos will not face any punishment. Here's the article in the local paper (in Spanish) over this decision, "No hay sanciones para los médicos boricuas."

(Image obtained from BBC Mundo)

1 comment:

Kofla Olivieri said...

Last I heard, the Dominican soldiers were fired and or in prison. It's a sad ending to a successful volunteer job by our doctors.