Monday, June 22, 2009

DoH says Duh? on H1N1

With the death of this 49 year old Filipina, the Department of Health just showed how inutile they are in addressing this influenza A H1N1 issue. Look, they have been trying to tell the public not to fear and this disease is "mild" and dengue cases are far worse. Now, look at what happened.

Reports say that the woman just treated her condition cavalierly, believing in what the DOH said that the influenza A H1N1 virus is just "mild" and contracting dengue is "far worst".

When the DOH said that there's nothing to fear, people became complacent and did not do what the government told them to. Why buy sanitizers when it's just a common disease? Why buy face masks when the DOH says there's nothing to worry about? And why the hell would we even bother ourselves with H1N1 when, as the DOH says, dengue is deadlier than this?

That is the message that the DoH sent to the public, thinking that this is the way to address an obvious PR problem. Duque should fire his PR consultant.

That is not the way to placate the public. No. H1N1 is not your ordinary influenza. It is not your common cold. It is deadly, as what the World Health Organization (WHO) warned us a few weeks ago. And it can mutate into a deadlier strain once it starts to adapt to its genetic environment.

For example, today's headline which says that 80% of those who contracted the disease cope with it well enough does not mean that it's not as deadly or deadlier than dengue. The DOH failed to say that the virus kills those with weaker constitutions. Or, in cases such as Europe, most of the victims are healthy adults.

Department of Health secretary Francisco Duque is a bumbling idiot. When this virus first broke out, the DoH did not recommend the proper and necessary countermeasures. They should have recommended at least one or two days of respite to allow government and the private sector to assess the situation and do the necessary countermeasures.

Duque was more interested on preserving his image and reputation rather than addressing the monumental organisational and logical problems attendant to this problem.

Is Duque aware that shopping malls in the Philippines are not inspecting those who enter their facilities? How about factories? Owners should start checking the body temperatures of their workers. And those of call centers and private businesses? They should start routine checking just to make sure. Also, how safe are government offices, especially the LTO and the rest where lots of people converge to transact business? How about bars and nightclubs? How safe are these places? Duque does not know. How about restaurants, gyms and other public places?

We should do a Mexico and temporarily halt all activities to allow businesses to assess the situation, do the necessary contamination procedures and ensure that every facility is well sanitized to deter the further spread of this virus.

The case of this woman is proof positive that the virus has already contaminated certain places in Metro Manila. The thing here is, the DoH don't even know. They don't know. And worst, they simply don't know what to do next. If such a woman can contract the disease in Metro Manila, and cases broke out in such isolated places as Nueva Ecija and Bulacan and Bacolod, how sure is the DOH that these are not proof positive of community outbreaks?

DOH officials should be fired from their jobs and government should seek assistance from the WHO and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). Our country has a history of similar pandemics and we must not be too complacent and confident that this time around, everything is alright.

As I said, government should declare a two day holiday especially in Metro Manila. Do the proper and necessary containment procedures. Metro Manila is a very congested place, especially Manila. Manila is full of slums, a good breeding ground for diseases like H1N1. Government should place the entire Metro Manila under a State of Emergency and mobilize all units to ensure the safety of all its citizens.