In an essay published urgently in the international open access journal PloS Medicine, Pulitzer Prize winning author Laurie Garrett warns that if Libya proceeds with the executions of six foreign health workers accused of infecting children with HIV, the appalling injustice will threaten health workers worldwide and endanger their patients in the poorest parts of the world.
The six health workers, Bulgarian nurses Snezhana Dimitrova, Nasya Nenova, Valentina Siropulo, Valya Chervenyashka, and Kristina Vylcheva, and Palestinian physician Ahmed Ashraf Al Hadjudi are due to hear the final result of their appeal in the next few days. The case has attracted widespread condemnation from the international scientific and medical communities.
In a hard hitting essay, Garrett, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, warns that the health workers are pawns in a far larger game, and that “At stake are some of the most profound political issues of our time: terrorism, nuclear proliferation, the freedom of movement of health care workers and scientists and the Biological Weapons Convention.”
Garrett concludes by saying “It is critical that the scientific community recognize what is at stake in this case: It is your freedom of movement and work; it is the strength and validity of the Biological Weapons Convention; it is Libya’s laudable willingness to remove itself from the list of nations that support terrorism and seek nuclear weapons capability. And it is freedom for six unjustly treated colleagues.”