Doctors warn of 'silent pandemic' among children
Kids lining up for food in an Albay feeding program.

Doctors warn of 'silent pandemic' among children

Kathleen A. Llemit (Philstar.com) - March 2, 2021 - 1:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — Doctors at the recent first Filipino Family Wellbeing Conference hosted by Unilab Foundation, Inc., all agreed that the family's wellbeing is of utmost importance especially during this pandemic.

They've noted how the effects of physical distancing and disruptions at school and work have affected the psychosocial needs of each member of the family.

Dr. Francis Xavier Dimalanta, Board of Trustees of the Philippine Pedratric Society, shared how the pandemic affected people from all across the strata.

"It cuts across all social classes because I would like to believe we are in the same storm but in different boats," he shared at the virtual presscon for the wellbeing conference.

He, however, underscored an important demographic that he said could be facing a more serious problem.

"Eto 'yung silent pandemic na nakikita namin for children because may iba naisasantabi ang kanilang feelings kasi iba okay lang 'yan. 'Wag kang magko-complain kasi mas okay pa tayo. Hindi namatayan'," he shared, the latter a phrase he referred to some would have or might have the tendency to say to their children.

"Children are not asked to feel how they really feel. 'Di ba nakakaawa?" he interjected.

He further added that school plays an important factor in their development. The pandemic, however, disrupted what would have been traditionally a place of finding ways to develop all the skills necessary for them to learn and grow up in.

"We are concerned now about the children, the younger children who have been deprived of the socio-emotional learning because they learn primarily by touch. So can you imagine, hindi sila pwedeng humawak? And for me that's the primary thing: children learn by touching. That's why we're saying that there's a silent pandemic that is forthcoming," he stressed.

The doctor continued that it is important for adults to be "cognizant" of the situation so they could address it.

What are the signs that show distress, not only among kids, but also adults who will take care of them?

"It depends on the age group because they see it differently. The toddlers, pre-school, school age, adolescents. Many of them will show anxiety, fear, uncertainty. The important thing is for parents to realize [their feelings and] empathize with them.

"You can't say them not to feel this or that way because it's their feeling. You have to validate their feelings. Allow them to talk. You have to ask and then listen. Listen, be kind, and encourage them to talk about what they're feeling. Let's hear them out. Let's give them a chance to talk. And that will help us sort out this distress and help them go through these temporary, unprecedented times," he appealed.

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