About Me

Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas: A Hero Doctor to the Barrios

This writer is forever indebted to doctors. It is countless times that doctors saved my life since I was born. I can no longer remember how many times I had pneumonia, 2 times that I was nearly blinded, the times that I inserted a bead and even an eraser up my nostrils, sprains,  gallstones, hypertension, diabetes, an unknown intestinal virus, 2 bouts with Dengue Fever, and an illness that required chemotherapy.

I do write this now because I want to make a small and partial payment to an enormous debt.

I first encountered the Doctor to the Barrios book by the now legendary Dr. Juan Flavier in my grandfather’s bookshelf. I was still I grade school then and I was once fascinated and entertained by the anecdotes and stories in the book about how a doctor made a difference I the rural areas. Places where there were no electricity, potable water and even telephones. Places where according to Dr. Flavier, the distance to be walked is measured by how many cigarettes one has to smoke while walking. Places where there was no ice to cool down fever but cuttings of banana trunks were used in place of ice and it worked. 

It is not easy to be a Doctor to the Barrios, it entails a lot of sacrifice and also there is really a dearth of doctors available in the rural areas in a country where the ratio is 1 doctor for every 30,000 people.

The Department of Health’s (DOH) Doctor to the Barrios Program (DTTB) aims to: 

a. To ensure quality health care service to depressed, marginalized and underserved areas through the deployment of competent and community-oriented doctors.

b. To effect changes in the approach to health care delivery by the stakeholders in rural health care.

That is where Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas found himself in serving the Filipino people. The DTTB Program has not be able to fill up all the positions that are required, not even by half. Dr. Drey as he was fondly called chose to improve the health situation in Lanao del Norte even though his contract with the DTTB has already lapsed. 

On the night of March 1, 2017, after participating on a medical mission and riding his motorcycle going home, Dr. Drey was shot by still unidentified assailants. He was pronounced Dead on Arrival at the Lanao de Norte Provincial Hospital.

He was described as a passionate, skilled and selfless doctor that prioritizes others more than himself. He was the first doctor to visit the most rural areas and extended hos working hours just to attend to patients. Dr. Drey also made several health initiatives for the people of the locale that has never been undertaken before like blood tests and lying in clinics. 

He insisted in serving at Lanao del Norte even though he was told by love ones to just serve at home because he believed that is where he was needed most. Dr. Drey had candies for young patients and fruits for elderly patients and that endeared him to the people.

Last Monday, March 6, 2017, there was a Black Monday protest by doctors and health workers all over the country. More than 60 health organizations have denounced the killing and expressed outrage over the death of a rare breed of medical professional.

This writer has also been assigned to many rural areas in the country and have seen these selfless medical professionals serving the poor and marginalized in the rural areas. A certain measure of solidarity with those who have shared in the hardships and joy of rural development and service to the people is now being felt all over the country.

The killing of Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas diminishes us all. 

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