Pinoy Kasi

Caring medicine

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The Ramon Magsaysay Awards have tended to emphasize community and service, with many of the awardees coming from civil service organizations or CSOs. (CSOs are also known as nongovernmental organizations or NGOs, but the “Napoles” pork scam has caused irreparable damage to the term.)

This year one of the awards went to Dr. Ernesto Domingo, and I found that significant because the award recognizes someone known for his contributions to scientific research (he is a National Scientist), as well as someone who has practiced medicine in hospital settings, and has devoted most of his life to teaching, at the UP College of Medicine. Over and above all this, he has been an advocate for change, for a new medicine.

Doctor Domingo is known in medical circles mainly for his work around hepatitis and for demonstrating a link between hepatitis B infections and liver cancer. He fought hard, and successfully, for infant hepatitis B immunization, which is now included in the government’s childhood vaccination program. As with so many medical breakthroughs, many people are unaware about how many lives will be saved because of this hepatitis B immunization.

Beyond hepatitis though, Doctor Domingo’s award comes for his work as one of the moving forces (together with Dr. Alberto Romualdez) behind the campaign for universal health care in the Philippines. He has used a more manageable Filipino term, “Kalusugang Pangkalahatan,” and emphasizes that this includes, but is not limited to, national health insurance. Universal health care means every Filipino must have access to quality health care. Many countries in the world, including several which are poorer than the Philippines, have universal health care, supported through taxes.

 

Baby boxes

Last Wednesday, Peter Wallace wrote in his column about an excellent example of universal health care with “baby boxes,” which Finland first introduced in 1938, at a time when that country was still trying to bring down death rates among infants, especially the newborn. Each new mother received a box with infant clothing, a blanket and sleeping quilt and all kinds of baby supplies. Even the mother got bra pads and, I just have to quote Wallace, “condoms.” (Catholic Church, please note.)

I did go into the Internet to look for more information and the best one was at the BBC site with photographs. Just google “Why Finnish Babies Sleep in Boxes.” One new Finnish father who was living overseas said he still claimed the box, feeling it represented how the Finnish government cared. I also noticed that the Internet now has ads for infant gift boxes that you can buy, again a wonderful symbol of caring.

In our own government labor wards, I’ve seen countless mothers coming in with almost nothing for the new baby. They are just totally unprepared, and the situation is made worse when they’re told to cross the street to buy a basic package of medicines and supplies for the delivery; and although the packages cost less than P1,000, many mothers have not even saved up that money.

Universal health care could mean automatically providing each new mother with similar boxes, and conditions for eligibility. In the beginning the Finnish government simply gave the boxes for free. Later, they attached one condition for getting the box: to be eligible for the box, mothers have to have a prenatal check-up before the fourth month of pregnancy.

The Finnish ones emphasize heavy clothing because of their cold climate; Filipino versions could be much simpler. I noticed one picture book mentioned for the Finnish baby box; ours could have more materials, colorful and well written, about baby care.

The Finnish baby box, incidentally, is made of sturdy materials so it doubles as a sleeping crib and this use became so popular that even today in affluent Finland, babies still sometimes sleep in those free boxes. Again, we forget that in poor households, there are no cribs. And don’t even think of a banig or mat, which has become so expensive that the poorest of the poor sleep on the floor, with newspapers or cardboard as bedding.

PhilHealth already has a maternity package to cover hospital expenses during delivery and that certainly should be retained—and enhanced—in a Kalusugang Pangkalahatan system. But after all’s said and done, with insurance coverage and baby boxes, universal health care, Domingo-style, would need one final, vital ingredient: caring.

This is where Doctor Domingo has been trying to make a difference. Teaching for more than 40 years in the UP College of Medicine, he has seen the many fads and fashions that come and go with medicine. There was primary health care and community care in the 1970s sadly de-emphasized through the years. Then there was problem-based medical education, which tried a more integrative approach, linking anatomy, physiology, pathology through case studies. Then there was evidence-based medicine, emphasizing research to look at whether certain medicines and therapies really work.

Transformational medicine

In the last few years there has been much talk about transformational medical education, which doesn’t just look at technical competence but also the way future doctors might be socially and culturally competent, able to relate to patients regardless of class, ethnic background or religion. More importantly, as the term implies, transformational medical education should mean doctors who make a difference for society.

Being able to care seems almost commonsensical for doctors, but medical education’s rigors often harden our medical students. They are also taught to distance themselves from patients, to be “objective,” even unemotional, to avoid getting too personally involved and burning out.

In one newspaper interview Doctor Domingo admitted he has wept for patients, but he would do this privately. It would be good for medical students to know they can do that, too.

Beyond weeping though, caring is being able to seize strategic moments with patients to show one cares. I can imagine if we have a universal health care system and those baby boxes, we could have simple but important rituals where the obstetrician and a pediatrician would team up to give new parents their baby box, congratulating them, then explaining how important the contents are. I would like to see pediatricians explaining that the box does not have free samples of infant formula because the best nutrition for the newborn infant will be breast milk.

Transformational medicine and universal health care are big words but they are based on the basic principles of caring and empathy. Yet, because they are so simple they can lead to breakthroughs—like those Finnish baby boxes—that save countless lives.

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E-mail: mtan@inquirer.com.ph

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  • athenapallas

    Hopefully, this “baby box” will be realized soon in this pitiful country of ours, now that corruption is slowly being exposed and the guilty people on their road to punishment, hopefully and fingers crossed. If we get back some if not all of the money they stole, maybe we will have funds to allocate for this kind of project. Sanannaman huwag lagyan ng ugly disgusting pictures ng mga epal na politicos ang baby box. baka bangungutin lang ang mga sanggol pag nasilayan ang mga ngetpadoodle na mga muka ng epals na yan.

    • kristine0019

      Naku po, Sir, buti na lang po nabanggit n’yo yan. Sa totoo lang po, yan rin po ang kinakatakot ko – if ever magkaroon ng baby boxes dito sa Pilipinas, tatapalan lang yan ng mga mukha ng mga epalitiko. Diyos ko, kawawa po yung mga sanggol – kasisilang pa lang, tinuturuan nang maging tiwali.

  • 33Sam

    THIS IS OMINOUS. THERE HAVE BEEN REPORTS OF INFANT DEATHS FROM THIS VACCINE. IT WOULD BEHOOVE ANY MENTALLY AWARE FILIPINO TO REALIZE THAT THERE IS AN ONGOING THRUST TO GENOCIDE USING VACCINES AND SNEAKING THEM INTO GOVERNMNET SPONSORED PROGRAMS. NOT UNLIKE THE TETANUS ABORTION SCAM PILFERED ON FILIPINAS SOME TIME AGO.

    oldthinkernewsDOTcom/?p=370

    “DR VILMA GONZAGA [SUBTITLED]: Women should have been told that the injection would cause miscarriage and, in the end, infertility. The Department of Health should have asked beforehand, so that only those who didn’t want to have children had the injection. I really hope and pray to God that I will still have a baby and get a normal pregnancy. And I am still hoping that the Department of Health will find an antidote to the antibodies in my body.”

    “DR FAYS SCHRATER: If there is a conspiracy to immunise the women of the Philippines with chorionic gonadotropin rather than tetanus, then it requires the knowledge of some member of a government, or two. It requires the participation of a manufacturer to link the chorionic gonadotropin physically to the tetanus toxoid – you can’t just throw it in the vial and expect it to do its work. And it requires that it be mislabelled and that it be shipped then to a centre who knows what’s in it and who is going to distribute it in a guise of tetanus vaccine. Of course it’s plausible and in fact it’s probably not all that complicated. All it takes is money and desire and the willingness to lie. We have this long history, we, as women, of been either lied to or coerced in terms of contraception. We’ve been lied to in terms of either the dosage of hormones like in the pill, we’ve been lied to about the effects of Norplant, we have had Norplant coercively used and then refusal to remove it, women have been forced into sterilisation camps. There’s a long history of medical science being used negatively on women’s bodies and of women being lied to.”

    WHEN FILIPINOS WHO ARE IN POSITION OF AUTHORITY STOP ACTING LIKE WILLING PARTICIPANTS IN GENOCIDE, THEN WE CAN BE ASSURED THAT THE GOVERNMENT AND ANY HEALTH DEPARTMENT OR PLAN WILL BE SMART, HONEST AND UPFRONT ABOUT ITS PROGRAMS.

    SO FAR FILIPINO LEADERS ARE PREYING ON THE IGNORANCE AND ILLITERACY OF FILIPINOS TO IMPLEMENT THESE, FOR ALL INTENTS, GENOCIDE CULLING MEASURES THAT ARE DRESSED UP BY ARTICLES SUCH AS THIS ARTICLE TO LOOK LIKE BENEVOLENT AND WELL MEANING.

    DID YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK MR. TAN AND RESEARCH THIS VACCINE OR DID YOU JUST COPY VERBATIM THE LITERATURE PROVIDED BY THE GOVERNMENT AND THE VACCINE MAKER??

    IT IS NO WONDER THAT THE MAGSAYSAY AWARDS ARE SYMBIOTICALLY TIED TO THE ROCKEFELLERS, KNOWN GLOBALIST-EUGENICISTS WHO HAVE BEEN BEHIND MANY GLOBALIST AGENDAS INCLUDING AGENDA 21 WHEREIN FIDEL RAMOS WAS COAXED TO SIGN IN 1997 EXECUTIVE ORDER PA 21, GIVING UP PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY UNTO THE UNITED NATIONS MAKING THE PHILIPPINES A SUZERAINTY, A VASSAL OF THE U.N. WHERE MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT FUNCTION IS NOW, UNBEKNOWNST TO MANY INCLUDING GOVERNMENT MEMBERS, UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE U.N.

    AGENDA 21’S PLAN ALTHOUGH DESCRIBED AS A “GREEN MOVEMENT” WITH KEYWORDS LIKE “SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT” BUT WITH THE HIDDEN AGENDA OF CREATING ECONOMIC “ZONES” AND “CARBON SINKS” WHICH ALLOWS AGENDA 21 TO READY THE PLANET FOR HEGEMONIC TAKEOVER BY THESE GLOBALISTS WITH THE ENDGAME OF 90% POPULATION REDUCTION ON THE PLANET.

    TIED INTO THESE MANY AGENDAS IS CODEX ALIMENTARIUS, IMPLEMENTED BY THE UNITED NATIONS, WHICH DAVID ROCKEFELLER CREATED AND CONTROLS, AND THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION IN 2009, WITH THE PLAN OF KILLING 3 BILLION PEOPLE USING NUTRITION-LESS VIRUS TAINTED FOODS AND GMO.

    SO IF YOU CAN SEE THE OCTOPUS OF TENTACLES SET FOR GENOCIDE, YOU WILL NOT MISS A SIMPLE “VACCINE PROGRAM” AS A RESULT.

    http://www.naturalnewsDOTcom/041628_infant_mortality_hepatitis_B_vaccines.html#ixzz2bynwmNvr

    “Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Health Department has decided to pull the hepatitis B vaccines altogether, also discontinuing the use of two other vaccine lots.

    The families of the deceased infants have been offered free medical care from the same hospitals responsible for administering the deadly vaccines to their babies.”

    FILIPINOS STOP BEING A JUDAS TO YOUR OWN PEOPLE.

    YOU WILL NOT BE CONSTRUED AS ON THE “WINNING SIDE” BY GOING ALONG WITH THESE OVERLORD EDICTS!

    AND AS THIS ESCALATES YOU WILL BE PART OF THE DEAD AS WELL!!!

    YOU HAVE COLLUDED WITH MURDERERS AND YOU WILL BE NEXT UNKNOWN TO YOU!!!

  • josh_alexei

    Mr. Tan, Universal Care if ever it gets implemented is perhaps one of the greatest humanitarian program ever to get institutionalized and believe it is not as expensive as many opponents will have it appears to be…We have proven beyond doubt that per Capita, our health care expense is much lower than some countries without the Tax Supported health care as one main reason, the Profit motivation was taken out, that our Govt can even afford to Give our Mothers a One Year (including same sex couples, or even fathers) Parental Leave with Pay for every childbirth, or adoption and for childbirth after the manadatory maternity leave, is divisible between partners. And of Course, Hospital procedures and medical bills are all billed to the taxpayers…It is illegal to bill the patients.

  • WeAry_Bat

    Relief and support for disaster victims, healthcare, maternal care…These things I could stomach my income tax deduction goes into. But I can’t for SUVs, mansions, jewelry, roses, food…

    Such a box may cost about P3k? I feel it is only a fraction of the PDAF for the average number of pregnant women per year in the Philippines. It seems to be doable.

    • josh_alexei

      I fully agree with you full heartedly…I have been an income tax paying and taxpayer (property tax, good and services tax, gas tax, car tax, hunting licenses) all my life even in my seniour years, but when I see mothers having safe childbirth without to worry the expense, it is all worth it..and every child (the current budget for each child schooling per year now is average $11 thousands plus their allowances (that could go up to $500/month depending on family income) just have to tell myself, there goes my taxes and when I visit my doc every 3 months and get my prescription refilled (that may cost more than $2000) I’d say this one for me..

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