Friday, June 26, 2009

Philippine government must step up defenses against deadlier strain of A(H1N1)

As of yesterday, the number of people infected with the A(H1N1) flu virus in the Philippines reached 604 and at least one death was recorded.

The fact that a couple of people infected with the dreaded flu virus was able to enter the Philippines and infect other people says a lot about the country's ill-preparedness in dealing with pandemics.

Department of Education Secretary Jesli Lapus decried the repeated suspension of classes and said that A(H1N1) virus was just like sore eyes. This eschews the fact that the cramped and often unhygenic situation in most public schools in the Philippines would be an ideal ground zero for an escalated spread of the disease.

Public schools in the Philippines often cram up 45 to over a 100 students in one classroom and with just one toilet for every 151 students.

The list of Filipino public school vulnerabilities when it comes to health care are enormous.

Just consider that 21% of schoolchildren are malnourished; 11.4% of school children aged 6-12 years old suffer from iodine deficiency; 37.4 of school children aged 6-12 years old suffer from Iron Deficiency Anemia; 36% suffer from Vitamin A Deficiency; 67% suffer intestinal helminthiasis or worm infestation; 97% have dental caries; 6.23% have hearing impairment; and 2.54 – have visual impairment.

Their state of nourishment makes them vulnerable to diseases and if they do contract an infection, access to a physician is virtually nil.

There is just 1 medical officer for every 80,000 pupils, 1 school dentist for every 20,000 pupils and 1 school nurse for every 5,000 pupils.

Senator Richard Gordon, the author of the Health and Education Acceleration Program bill intended to upgrade academic facilities as well as provide better health care for public school students, pointed out that in the current state that public schools are in, it would be better to keep schools closed until the government is better prepared to respond to contingencies that may follow.

In reaction to Department of Education Secretary Jesli Lapuz' statement that classes should not be suspended again, Gordon issued a statement at the weekly Kapihan sa Senado yesterday:

"It is not the call of the Dept. of Education. It’s not the call of Malacanang. It is the call of DOH, consulting the World Health Organization, if it is safe to allow our children to go to school. It cannot be cavalierly said by the Department of Education na parang sore eyes lang yan dahil may namamatay dito eh.

"I don’t think swine flu at the moment is serious, unless mahina ang constitution nung taong tinamaan at hindi siya nagpatingin sa dalubhasang doktor. There are already flu shots available. Nevertheless we should already be practicing our contingency plans in the event that we encounter a stronger strain of the A(H1N1) flu virus.

"This will be something similar like a fire drill, but certain elements of it have to be practiced everyday -- like proper hygiene.

"Let’s find out if we can make it happen. Let’s learn from it right now, rather than learn as we die."

1 comment:

ikogsakanding said...

sana suspended ang mga class... heheheheh

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