Worse than the cure
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - March 14, 2018 - 12:00am

IPIL TOWN, Zamboanga – After checking out potential renewable products in Seoul, Korea, I’m now in the town of Ipil, 3.5 hours north of Zamboanga City to join the team of BMeg veterinarians, product specialists and technicians for the start of the 2018 BMeg Fiestahan. We are expecting a big crowd after learning that the Mayor of Ipil and the Congressman have put their stamp of approval on this BMeg event so that many of their constituents can get first hand information and knowledge from the BMeg team. How I wish other Mayors and Congressmen were as involved in empowering their residents.

A number of readers have inquired when the BMeg team will be in their area, unfortunately there are too many variables that prevent us from giving very advance information. Last year, we had to scratch out all events in Mindanao due to security risks and the subsequent declaration of Martial law in the region. On this trip our first stop is the town of Ipil, Zamboanga that seems to have fully recovered from an attack by 200 Abu Sayyaf terrorists in 1995. As distant as the town of Ipil may seem, it is relatively developed as a first class municipality and has all the signs of eventually becoming a center of commerce for as long as the government and our law enforcers keep trouble makers and criminals out of the area. Even Zamboanga City has all but cleaned up any traces of the siege that a similar band of terrorists attempted and failed at years ago.

According to local sources, Zamboanga City and nearby towns are currently under “red alert,” and this seems to be true based on at least eight checkpoints manned by the Philippine Marines or the PNP between Zamboanga City and Ipil town. Intelligence reports indicate that the Abu Sayyaf and the BIFF are still hatching out a plan to launch an attack or a siege of Zamboanga City or Ipil. The big difference is the Marines, Army and the PNP are now all over the place. We can only pray that the PNP will one day implement a total gun ban and confiscate all the loose firearms to reduce the criminality and gun related violence in Zamboanga.

In the mean time, it’s all hands on deck for the BMeg team as we once again do knowledge transfer on backyard hog raising with a sprinkling of motivation for people to become “producers” and entrepreneurs if they can’t get a job or be a professional employee. At the very least they could be like me who now gets 90 percent of my pork, chicken and eggs from our backyard farm in Lipa.

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In case you’re wondering what could be “worse than the cure,” well, I happened to visit a chicken farm here in Zamboanga and the new caretaker brought me to a pile of sickly young chickens that were having tremors and dying within hours after getting sick. The guy had no medicine on hand and was totally clueless if the chickens had been vaccinated or not. In such a situation, the quickest and most drastic solution would simply to kill them all and burn them to prevent a bigger outbreak.

That scene brings to mind our current situation concerning “Vaccines” and vaccination programs in the Philippines both for humans and animals. In livestock, no one questions the need for vaccinations because when pestilence or virus breaks out, animals die by the dozen, hundreds or thousands within hours! That is why you see or read about towns or provinces being locked down and declared “Under Quarantine.” The loss in terms of pesos or dollars can run up to millions and businesses or farms close down. Sadly, people in government, businessmen and backyard farmers have not learned enough to understand the impact of major diseases that require vaccinations for livestock especially poultry and hogs. 

Just like humans, pigs and chickens need as many as five different vaccines in their relatively shorter lifetime. But in general, farmers and livestock owners only comply with two out of five. Needless to say, the first two becomes useless when other diseases kill the flock or herd!  Last Monday, news came out that there has been an increase (X3) in measles or diseases that used to be under control through vaccination. So the predictable outcome is now upon us. No thanks to alarmists, ignorant politicians and panic button journalism, many parents have opted not to vaccinate their children because of the Dengvaxia hysteria and now children are paying the price in sickness and disease and God forbid, possibly death from refusal to vaccinate!

Health Secretary Francisco Duque should know better than to fight the battle or play spokesman to restore public confidence in vaccination programs all by himself. Jesus Christ stated that a prophet has no honor in his own home or town. The same goes for Secretary Duque who may be doing what’s right but is the wrong person for the campaign. He needs professional advice and help to mount a serious campaign. Not just a “public information campaign” but a real honest to goodness campaign to win back the hearts and minds of the public.

In the case of the Department of Agriculture, Secretary Manny Piñol should assign a dedicated team or committee who will be tasked to conduct a nationwide, sustainable information and vaccination program for livestock. Piñol excels at informing the public about what he and the department is doing all over the country on radio weekly. However, giving progress reports is totally different from launching an intense campaign to eradicate preventable diseases or to prevent livestock annihilation through vaccination, as well as barangay and school-based education campaigns on various vaccines required to protect animals. Just like school children, adults must benefit from continuing education.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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