Open letter by Bukidnon physician on the province’s alarming dengue situation
SOCIETY | BUKIDNON NEWS – A lot of loyal BukidnonOnline.com readers have been sending us email-requests to print in full the open letter of a certain Dr. Janet Molina, a physician based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. Apparently, Dr. Molina’s open letter, which was first posted on social networking website Facebook, has garnered quite a lot of attention. To answer such requests, we’re printing her open letter verbatim below. BukidnonOnline.com also has a commentary about this issue. We will share our thoughts on the next post.
In the meantime, read on:
To Senator Miguel Zubiri and Senator TG Guingona; Hon Emmanuel Paras, Hon Florencio Flores, Hon Jose Zubiri III:
I am Dr Janet Q. Molina, a practicing Surgeon from Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. I am writing to all of you, elected members of the Senate and House of Representatives in behalf of the people of Bukidnon.
We are all aware of the problem we have regarding Dengue which affects the rich and the poor. It has reached to a point of more than 100% increase of cases compared to last year with parallel increase in morbidity and mortality.
Although the Department of Health is doing its best to promote preventive measures, as a physician, I am more concerned with the treatment and the economic impact it has to the patient and family.
I don’t know if you are aware that Bukidnon is one of the provinces that has a lot of dengue cases and high mortality rate with its peak incidence last June to August this year. There seems to be a decline of cases this month and hopefully it will continue to do so.
As all of you are from Bukidnon, you know that keeping our environment clean is not the solution. We are surrounded by banana plantations, corn, rice paddies ( I don’t need to elaborate). Most of our people are living within the farm and it is their children’s playground. With that in mind, how can we eradicate the mosquitoes that bear the dengue virus? The farms are our source of livelihood. What the DOH is promoting is not the solution to our problem in the Province of Bukidnon.
As a physician who is in contact with other practicing physicians in this province, the picture of dengue patients in terms of its clinical presentation has changed over the past years. Today, patients easily go into shock without bleeding. They present with carditis, pleural effusion and renal failure. Although most of the physicians practicing in this province are trained and has been in practice for many years, we are not prepared to handle complicated dengue patients.
Our hospitals (provincial hospitals in Maramag, Malaybalay and Manolo Fortich and even private hospitals) are not equipped to handle cases. We lack ventilator, dialysis unit, Intensive care unit and even the manpower (nurses and medtechs).
What the doctors and hospitals have been doing during the months of June to August was to refer dengue patients to private hospitals in Cagayan de Oro. Some go to the Northern Mindanao Regional Hospital and die at the Emergency room because they were not immediately attended to because of patient bulk.
Going to CDO to be admitted in ICU means money. We all know that most of our farmers here live in hand to mouth existence. How can they pay the hospital bills which will amount to 200-300 thousand pesos? By selling their farmlands,houses and livestocks. For me, this is very tragic because we have hospitals, doctors, nurses and medtechs in the Province of Bukidnon. Instead of helping our people, we are taking from them their lands and homes.
As a practicing physician in this province, let me suggest:
1. The DOH should send their doctors (pedia/adult infectious and intensivist) to train and impart their skills and knowledge to the staff of the Bukidnon Hospitals. Let them set up the dengue ward and ICU, let them stay here for a month or two. This is to upgrade the skills of the staff and be well prepared if there is another dengue outbreak. This will lessen referrals to CDO.
2. Provide the necessary equipments needed to form an ICU\ward.(platelet extractor, ventilators etc.)
3. Provide additional manpower, medtechs, nurses.
I am appealing to you as a native from Bukidnon and as a physician who has seen that dengue cannot only kill the patient but it can strip one family from its land and home. My suggestions are so simple, it doesn’t even need millions of pesos to make it workable. All I ask is that through your respective offices, facilitate the training from DOH and provide the necessary support.Although there seems to be a decline of dengue cases, should we wait for another outbreak, more deaths before we act?
I have already written to Senator Pia Cayetano and Hon. Alfredo Maranon (Committee chair on Health in the Senate and House of Representatives). However, there is no response.
As the people of Bukidnon put their trust to you, may you help us preserve the lives of our children, our livelihood, and our trust in the Government.
More power to all of you.
Janet Q. Molina, MD, DPBS, FPSGS