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Opinion

Finding a cure for Ebola

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

There has been a surge of experimental drugs being presented to the World Health Organization (WHO) for the possible cure of Ebola. The problem is that in big organizations you cannot just endorse a drug that has not been thoroughly tested or studied. Protocols must be followed and this takes time. It’s because of this protocol that people continue to die out there. I wish that WHO can come up with a system to try the different possibilities offered and test them in a shorter period of time.

When one is desperate to be healed from sickness, I think he would try any drug or potion just to relieve him of the pain. Thousands of poor children and adults are just lying on the pavements waiting for a cure in Africa. Why not allow doctors to use those drugs and come up with a study on them?

In the quest for an Ebola vaccine, two candidates GlaxoSmithKline and a small company in Ames, Iowa are taking the lead. NewLink Genetics has also made a deal with drugmaker Merck, to research, develop, manufacture and distribute an experimental Ebola vaccine.

Sometimes your heart just breaks into pieces when you hear stories of possible “cheap” drugs that can be used in communities to cure different types of sicknesses that government or pharmaceutical companies tend to ignore because there is no big time money in such ventures.

In the Philippines, someone has found a possible cure to Ebola but the Department of Health has not lifted a finger to investigate or support a further research on this discovery. Sanamagan!

Dr. Ruben Fabunan who runs the Fabunan Medical Clinic in San Marcelino, Zambales has been using an inexpensive vaccine he has discovered to cure RNA viruses like Dengue, Chikungunya and possibly Ebola.

This vaccine is composed of a combination drug: procaine and dexamethasone. Procaine is a local anesthetic drug of the amino ester group. It is used primarily to reduce the pain of intramuscular injection of penicillin. It is also used in dentistry. It acts mainly by being a sodium channel blocker. Today it is used therapeutically in some countries due to its sympatholic, anti-inflammatory, perfusion enhancing, and mood enhancing effects. Dexamethasone, on the other hand, is a type of steroid medication. It too has anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects. It is used for the treatment of many illnesses including: rheumatologic problems, a number of skin diseases such as erythema multiforme, severe allergies, asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, croup, and cerebral edema, in addition to other medications in tuberculosis and a number of other infectious diseases.

How does it work? Plasma in the blood reacts with procaine and metabolizes into ethanol. The dexamethasone is used to negate the anesthetic effect of procaine and prolong the effectivity to produce alcohol and then it attacks the bad cells and leaves the healthy cells untouched. Within 48 hours it passes thru the body and released as sweat.

By the way, Dr. Fabunan is not a ‘quack’ doctor. He completed his BS Pre-Med at the University of the Philippines and graduated at South Western University, Matias H. Aznar Memorial College of Medicine in Cebu in 1973. He is a research scientist and drug designer who invented the Fabunan Antiviral Injection for HIV/AIDS, influenza and dengue fever – the US patent of which was issued on January 9, 2001. He also invented the Envenomation Antidote for snake bite catfish sting and other animal poisons – US patent issued on February 20, 1996. Dr. Fabunan is a recipient of the First Place Award in Biotechnology, for his “Poison Antidote” at the Invention Convention in 1997 at Pasadena, California, USA. He has indeed outstanding credentials.

Funding is a problem. The doctor needs support from the DOH or from local pharmaceutical companies. He has approached several companies and even the DOH but they all ignored him. It is such a pity! I hope one good Samaritan or maybe an entrepreneur philanthropist can open his/her eyes and mind to the many possibilities this vaccine can offer not only to our countrymen but also to people around the world. Who knows, this could be a breakthrough in science and at the same time give one of our countrymen the honor of a Noble Peace Prize.

* * *

Last week, I attended a wedding in Boracay. I was looking forward to a relaxing time under the sun with a glass of mojito by the beautiful beachfront of Discovery Shores. I woke up at 5 in the morning for my 9 o’clock Philippine Airlines flight. As I entered the NAIA 3 terminal, my nightmare began. The 9 o’clock flight was delayed to 10:55 a.m. While waiting in the departure area, another announcement came stating that the flight was delayed again to 11:55 nn. I ended up leaving Manila at 4:30 p.m. and arriving in my destination at 9:30 pm. Sanamagan!

The NAIA 3 departure area was full packed. There was barely space to move around. Many passengers were seating on the floor. It was a dangerous place to be in.  We were all upset, raging with anger. As much as we asserted our right as passengers no one listened. Calling DOTC!  The PAL ground crew gave us lame excuses. I felt so bad and exasperated. Finally, we were brought to a propeller engine plane. It was very hot inside and when we were about to depart, the engine stopped. The crew tried to fix the plane for almost an hour until they realized they couldn’t. So, we had to disembark. We rode the ferrybus back to the departure area.

The departure area was literally like a pigs’ pen. The ground crew was disorganized. They did not know what to do, how to handle the myriads of complaining customers. It was like a scene in a science fiction movie but this was real. I left and decided to cancel my trip. As I got my bags, a PAL counter staff asked me if I wanted to take the next trip at 4:30 pm via Kalibo. I asked if this plane was sure to fly. What a question! So, I tried my luck. The problem was I had to go to the ticketing counter (at the other end of the terminal) and change my ticket. It was such a gruelling experience. The good part was that there were two angels in the ticketing office who sympathized with me (I was actually with my whole family). Jocelyn Calar and Nic Santos from the ticketing office seemed to be very efficient unlike those in the departure area (who truly needs intensive training). They also spoke to their manager Luke Orleans to allow us to use our Caticlan tickets for Kalibo. Mind you in other airlines, they would have given you already a free ticket or voucher for the inconvenience they caused you. I know that such episodes may happen now and then but now it’s happening almost everyday which seems to be the case with PAL.

There seems to be ‘big time’ over booking and organizational problems with PAL today.  Everyday, I hear horror stories about the PAL – “plane always late” syndrome. Calling PAL Chairman Lucio Tan and PAL President Jaime Bautista! There is so much to do and yet so little time. You need to strengthen PAL’s wings to be consistent with your tag – “home in the sky” and live up to the standards of being the flag carrier of the Philippines. PAL must fly high with pride lest it falls from the skies and lose all its loyal clients.

 

AS I

AZNAR MEMORIAL COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

CHAIRMAN LUCIO TAN

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

DISCOVERY SHORES

DR. FABUNAN

DR. RUBEN FABUNAN

EBOLA

ENVENOMATION ANTIDOTE

PAL

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