Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is Dumaguete Ready for the AH1N1 Flu?

When this article came out in the May 30 issue of the MetroPost, the Philippines barely had 10 confirmed AH1N1 cases. As of today, the Department of Health announced 77 cases. WHO declared the Philippines as having the most number of cases in Southeast Asia.

Dumaguete has been spared so far. Last week, 2 foreign students of Silliman University exhibited flu-like symptoms and were advised to go on quarantine. As of this writing, there has been no update as to their status.

The children have gone back to school. Colleges and universities will be opening their doors on June 15.

We continue to hope and pray that Dumaguete will be spared from the H1N1 virus.

This column has to come out of hibernation to ask this question: are our hospitals prepared should, God forbid, a possible H1N1 case rears up its scary head?

I remember that during the SARS scare our hospitals, albeit belatedly, set up screening points in their entrances. Looking around now, I am dismayed to see that, while the whole world seems to be panicking over swine flu, Dumaguete hospitals are still in their “business as usual” mode.

Why is that? Shouldn’t they be the very first ones to “panic”? After all, hospitals are where sick people ran to at the first signs of illness. And especially at this time when the threat of an H1N1 pandemic is very real, our hospitals should be gearing up to meet this head on.

So what are they doing about it? How are the hospitals planning to handle a possible swine flu patient? Have they set up plans to protect the other patients from possible transmission of the virus? Like isolation or something? I am particularly concerned over this because my mother-in-law is presently hospitalized. Would they place a possible H1N1 patient in a room next to hers? How would that affect visitors and family members like us?

Has the hospital staff been briefed on what should be done in this event? They should not be clambering over each other asking what they should do to protect themselves, should a consultant for instance, call up to inform them that he’s sending up a patient who had just flown in from Central America and who is exhibiting with flu-like symptoms!

Does Dumaguete have the antiviral drugs to combat this flu?

I just have to ask. I am not a doctor, and obviously, I do not know enough. All I know are what I hear from the news and what I see and hear in our hospitals.

And from the inaction that I have seen so far and from the stories that I have been hearing, I should start getting seriously alarmed!

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