FASTLANES: Facebook and Bukidnon’s dengue problem. BenCyrus G. Ellorin

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/24 September) — Something is seriously amiss when a young physician calls on our authorities to act on a preventable disease “in memory” of those who died of it.

I can imagine the degree of frustration of Dr. Janet Molina, a practicing surgeon in Malaybalay, Bukidnon who resorted to using Facebook to urge Bukidnon lawmakers to respond swiftly to the alarming number of dengue cases in the province.

Data from the Department of Health in Northern Mindanao reveal a 230-percent increase in dengue fever occurrence in the region, with Bukidnon as one of the hardest hit.

Dr. Molina who is in the healthcare frontline should know the cases and numbers and is understandably grossly frustrated by the inaction of government on the problem.

In her second letter posted in Facebook on Sept. 21, 2010 ( obviously a follow-up to the first letter posted in the same website on Sept. 16, 2010 which was likely ignored by the political leaders of Bukidnon), she said:

“This is just to inform you that the news on TV patrol this evening is about La Union declaring state of calamity due to their 1000 plus dengue cases and 11 deaths. Let me aware you of the Provincial Health Office (PHO) Bukidnon census from January to Sept 10, 2010, 1565 cases and 19 deaths. Did you hear any clamor from DOH about Bukidnon or any statement from the LGU?

“I have learned that it is a principle that a threat to one human life due to health issues is already considered a threat to public safety.

“In Bukidnon, at least 19 recorded deaths and 1,565 cases did not merit a declaration by the provincial local government unit compared to the 11 recorded deaths and 1,000 cases in La Union.”

Dr. Molina addressed her open letter to Senators Teofisto Guingona III and Juan Miguel Zubiri. What have these two gentlemen in the august halls of Senate done?

Isn’t it queer that Bukidnon has two incumbent senators and yet problems right in their homes have not been given attention?

Bukidnon, a rich agricultural province, is not the neglected province in anyone’s imagination.

It has three members of the House of Representatives. Florencio Flores Jr. (2nd district), is a physician. First District Rep. Jess Paras is a prominent public executive. Third District Rep. Jose Ma. Zubiri III is another name on the long list of Zubiris who are holding public office.

Of course, we come to ask what the provincial political kingpin, Vice Gov. “Toto Joe” Zubiri, is doing, along with Malaybalay City mayor Inaki Zubiri?

Add to that Dr. Neric Acosta, a renowned environmentalist who is said to be waiting in the wings for the one-year ban on losing candidates to lapse before assuming the Department of Environment and Natural Resources portfolio.

What has kept these people busy that they have ignored the “elephant” in their living rooms?

Dr. Molina’s first letter posted in Facebook on Sept. 16, 2010 has simple suggestions, to wit:

“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 (Cagayan de Oro).

“2.  Provide the necessary equipment needed to form an ICU ward.(platelet extractor, ventilators, dialysis machines, 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 [also] strip one family of 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 hope this column will help the hapless victims of dengue and the heroic but obviously helpless health care frontliners in Bukidnon, my home.

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