When shit hits the fan…

Literally and figuratively speaking, the health of the people of this nation since the turn of the millennium is now at it’s all time low. And if you were in my shoes, you’d be cursing too.

This country kicked off 2019 with a measles outbreak, followed by Dengue when the rainy season began. After 19 years, polio is back! And we’re only in the third quarter of the year! If shit didn’t hit the fan with this medical nightmare, then I don’t know how you can claim that we’ve made strides at progress in medicine. At all.

If there’s a caveat in science that people don’t understand, it’s the old adage that “prevention is more effective than cure”. Or as our elder mentors would say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

We have many factors to blame. The underpinning one rests on how the government handled the misinformation (and disinformation) campaign of Dengvaxia in 2017. True, that it’s not a perfect vaccine. Program implementation for this had lapses as well. With a frenzy media that did not know right from wrong, personalities that rode the bandwagon of sensationalism including government officials who grandstanded on this issue – the perfect storm for relegating preventive medicine to the 1900s was put in place. And we have to acknowledge the fact that there are people responsible for the stinking mess that we are in today.

Which begs answers to the question – HOW THE HELL DID WE GET TO THIS POINT?

I’ll park that issue because it’s a long discussion. And I’m sure there will be people who will play the blame game. Moving on, knowing how and why we even got to this lowest ebb in our public health program should make us realize that we need to work at how to get out of this rut before another outbreak occurs and more innocent lives are lost.

The outbreaks we’re experiencing will require a concerted effort by all sectors to work with the Department of Health at restoring vaccine confidence and averting more crisis from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The other challenge in this day and age is addressing the rise of anti-vaxxers who use social media as their platform for fomenting fear and tragedy over vaccine safety. Let’s get one fact straight – there is no perfect vaccine OR medicine for that matter. Because science is unlike a bolt or screw coming out of a factory. We are all individually different. How we respond to medicines for our illness or even how a disease evolves in each of us differ from patient to patient. As a general rule, the art and science of medicine rests on how physicians are able to weigh benefit over risk. Some may develop an allergic reaction or adverse effect to drug X, while the majority get better from it. It takes years of training and knowledge before one can master the clinical acumen at being a good physician. Unlike those who simply cut and paste information from Dr. Google, and argue based on what is drawn from their first ping on the internet, the real doctor will make sure that they first DO NO HARM in any decision that involves our road to recovery or preventing diseases from occurring.

During these outbreaks, I saw how scared parents scrambled for answers to questions on how and why their children got sick or are now seeking for vaccines to avert getting the disease. Sadly, until coming down with the illness or death hits home, these children will only remain a statistic in the battles we lose due to dubious news and rumor mongers. And we will simply be spectators to the crisis in our midst.

It is time we put all our acts together. For the sake of our children and a generation ahead. Preventing an illness is not a personal one. Preventive medicine is everyone’s business. It’s a personal responsibility not only to our family but to our neighbors, friends and nation. If there is one lesson from this chaos – POLITICS and HEALTH should never be mixed – unless you have plans of annihilating a race.

It’s embarrassing that polio has resurrected in our nation. It’s a major setback in healthcare and speaks volumes on how fragile and gullible many Filipinos are when discerning between truth and lies.

Finally, after we clean up all this shit, let’s not forget the people who are accountable in bringing us to how all this shit reeked so foul! Justice may be delayed. But justice should not be denied. For the sake of those who became simply a statistic in this charade.

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