Filipinos deserve more than the minimum under MECQ – doctor

By Sanafe Marcelo

A community medicine expert warned that so-called minimum health standards the government is implementing under the new modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) strategy will not solve the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines.

University of the Philippines College of Medicine professor Gene Nisperos told an online forum the government seemingly wants the people to accept so-called minimum standards and capacities as the best that can be offered to combat the virus.

“Filipinos deserve more in terms of health, and given our problems during this time of COVID-19, it’s hard to say that this is the minimum standard and when we reach this, we are good,” Nisperos said.

In an online forum by Second Opinion (An Alternative Voice on COVID-19 and Health PH), Nisperos was reacting to the government’s decision to place the majority of the country under MECQ after placing the entire Luzon Island and some other parts of the country under lockdown for two months without mass testing.

Department of Health report as of May 17, 2020.

In its Administrative Order No. 2020-0016, Nisperos said the Department of Health ordered the development of “minimum public health standards” on detecting, isolating and treating coronavirus cases as the main strategy for the country’s Minimum Health System Capacity Standards for COVID-19 Preparedness and Response.

The medical doctor however said the government’s so-called minimum is inadequate as the guideline targets one ambulance per province for medical transport.

“What if there are 10 cases in a province? How will this be enough? This is injustice,” Nisperos said.

“We must insist that we should not only be given what is minimum [in fighting COVID]. Thus, we must demand that not just the minimum that they [government] can provide, but what is right and just based on how we value life and health of every Filipino,” Nisperos added. #

KODAO KLASIK: Diagnosing Poverty, Building Community

In the 1990s, young medical doctors Julie Caguiat and Gene Nisperos spent the first years of their practice helping poor peasants and indigenous peoples in the hinterlands of Bukidnon Province. Here is a video of their work, produced by Kodao for the Belgian humanitarian organization Intal.

Even then, Doctors Caguiat and Nisperos were threatened by the military for their advocacy and humanitarian work. Last Monday and Tuesday, Caguiat and Nisperos became victims of death threats anew for their continuing advocacy on community medicine and higher health budget.

Kodao is reposting this video to show who the perpetrators are threatening with death.

Public sector workers protest over pay hike

Declaring a “Black Heart’s Day,” public sector workers trooped to Mendiola leading to Malacanang Palace in Manila to denounce Pres. Benigno Aquino III and Budget Sec. Florencio Abad for the Salary Standardization Law 4 (SSL 4) discriminating pay and benefits for the country’s 1.5 million government workers. Similar actions were held in Baguio, Angeles, Naga, Legazpi, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao and other cities in the Philippines.