We shouldn’t panic due to coronavirus

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2020 - 12:00am

What has the year 2020 in store for us? While we just suffered from the volcanic eruption of Taal Volcano whose alert level has now been reduced to Level 3 scientists or volcanologists don’t have a clue whether Taal would erupt again or stay quiet in the next few years. We hope and pray that Taal Volcano would go back to its old quiet life.

In the meantime, last Saturday Chinese people from all walks of life celebrated the Chinese New Year and for the year 2020, it is the Year of the Rat. However the start of the Chinese lunar year has been deeply marred by the so-called coronavirus that emanated from the City of Wuhan, China and now this virus has spread to many countries. In Wuhan those who have perished from this virus rose from 17 dead to 56 and I’m sure this figure will rise to greater numbers.

The problem lies in the fact that many nations distrust China’s way of reporting their news. How many people from China have really died due to this virus? There is even a rumor that says that this virus escaped the germ warfare laboratory in China and is now beyond control. Some say that the virus could spread even before the symptoms show up? At this point our worst fears is a panic within ourselves, which should not be allowed to happen.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella is considering banning Chinese tourists until this contagious virus starts to simmer down. Mind you we have so many flights to and from China, including Wuhan, which for me ought to be stopped immediately. Incidentally we read in the news that President Rodrigo Duterte said that he hopes for stronger ties between the Philippines and China in his Chinese New Year 2020 message last Saturday. But if you ask me… the best way for China to show its friendship with the Philippines is how they would help us fight this coronavirus from China. In my book, this is the best way that the two countries could show respect for each other as it comes in a time of need.

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Last Friday I got a frantic call from a good friend who apparently was told by his friends to talk to me as four months ago, he already started his dialysis treatment. Of course since I had my kidney transplant three years ago, this case has become my advocacy in helping out friends and even strangers who are suffering from end stage renal failure. As it turned out, my friend wasn’t happy with his dialysis treatment, as it is not the right way of living his life. I totally agree with him, which is why I opted to have a kidney transplant even before my creatinine levels forced me to have a dialysis.

I’m writing this now as I read in the news that President Duterte has welcomed the recommendation of Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go to capacitate the National Kidney & Transplant Institute (NKTI) so that Filipinos with end-stage renal diseases need not go abroad to avail themselves of organ transplants. The NKTI’s Department of Organ Transplantation, established in 1983, has pioneered kidney, liver, kidney-pancreas transplantation in the country. It was established at a time when then Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos suffered from a kidney failure, which his son, Bongbong donated his kidney to his father, however it was rejected because his father suffered from lupus.

However, a liver transplant in the Philippines, for example, is at least three times more expensive than the P1.2 million needed for the same procedure in India. Indeed, it takes better equipment and more local specialists to enable the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) to perform liver and kidney transplants at a cheaper cost and thus save more lives.

I can understand why Sen. Bong Go is very much concerned that the Philippines should be prepared to handle liver transplant in the country. Apparently a long-term solution to this problem involves acquiring equipment for and developing the facilities of NKTI and sending its specialist staff to Kaohsiung Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital (KCGMH) in Taiwan for training. Yes I have always known in liver transplant Taiwan is one of the best places to have it.

When Dr. Enrique Ona was appointed Health Secretary he established a kidney center in the Vicente Sotto Medical Center (VSMC) in Cebu City and another one in Davao City. VSMC was where I had a kidney transplant under Dr. Alvin Roxas whose team was trained by Dr. Ona himself. Yes, my operation was a great success three years ago and surely since then there have been many kidney transplants in VSMC.

Best of all, I was given the Z-package by PhilHealth, which meant that they gave me a financial assistance I never expected from an agency belonging to the Philippine government. So as a way of paying back what I got, I have made helping people with kidney problems my personal advocacy and in a way this is God’s way for me to help those who need my help.

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com

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