Sick not with flu

std_20090601_swineflu2_PH_reutersI’m getting sick and tired of seeing Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque everyday on national TV while informing the public of new cases of H1N1 virus in the country.

Don’t get me wrong, just like everybody else I want to know the latest news on the virus. But what sickens me is my suspicion that the Secretary might be doing this not in service to the public, but in aid of elections.

Duque’s political ambition is not unknown to many. Word has it that the Health Secretary might gun for a Senate seat in the next year’s elections.

And by all indications, he’s doing a good job of keeping his face and name plastered and spoken on TV repeatedly. Indeed the virus scare is a perfect opportunity for him and his handlers to ensure name recall.

Not only because the H1N1 is something that all of us is interested in, it is also a perfect running story for Duque. But as he goes on with his daily ritual of “updating” the public on the virus; he only succeeds in sowing fear and panic among the populace.

Why? Because in almost all of his daily press conferences and media interviews all he and his underlings dish out are statistics that seem to shoot up every minute. I remember hearing the Secretary over the radio while preparing leaving for work one morning that confirmed H1N1 cases in the country number only to about a hundred plus. But when I again saw and heard him talking in a noon time news cast; I was stunned to learn that confirmed cases rose to almost two fold.

I read somewhere that the DOH is doing all of this in the name of “transparency.” But could anyone enlighten me why the hell their figures are screamingly different from that of the World Health Organization?

As of this writing, confirmed cases in the country now reached 473. But according to the WHO website, the Philippines have only a total of 344 and 33 newly confirmed cases. One can only speculate why the hell these two agencies hold differing statistics.

But the mere disparity in the statistics of our leading local health agency and that of its global counterpart is a serious cause for alarm for all of us who have been subjected to Duque’s daily fare of scaring the public with his swelling numbers. This is a just cause to investigate how the DOH is currently handling the pandemic.

Is the DOH really prepared and on top of the situation? Or is it only capable of keeping tabs of how many Filipinos are getting sick of the dreaded flu virus and terrorizing the public everyday?

Sowing fear and panic is a clear form of terrorism according to Gloria’s Anti-Terror Law.

I admit, I am scared. But not so much because the flu’s coming to get me sometime soon (I am armed with a hand sanitizer hehe). But because I think the DOH is inordinately ill prepared should the pandemic reach catastrophic proportions in the country.

Note that the Philippine medical system is currently in tatters because almost all of our health workers are scrambling to leave the country for jobs abroad. Who’s going to nurse us should the DOH’s prediction that 25% of the country is in danger of being affected by the novel flu strain?

Not Duque, I suppose. He doesn’t even bother to inform us of how many of those in his rising statistics have been cleared of the flu. Makes me even more convinced that he’s only in it to advance his political ambitions.

But then again, I hope I’m wrong.

(Photo courtesy: Reuters)