[OPINION] Missing the point
Walden Bello misses the point altogether. (READ: Circling the wagons: The 'Doctors for Truth' and the Dengvaxia scandal)
Those of us who signed the Statement in the "doctorfortruth" website did so because we wanted to mitigate the dangerous repercussions of the actions and words of the people Mr Bello refers to as "pests" and the other personalities he describes in his piece as "grandstanders, ambulance chasers, and opportunists".
They are far from "pests" given their stature and access to media. Whether they realize it or not, they have great influence on the minds and attitudes of our people.
It is not the intention of those who signed the Statement to defend Sanofi or those who were responsible for the government's Dengvaxia program. We have said time and again in subsequent statements that "let charges be filed where they should be filed. But spare the country."
Neither was it the intention of the doctors and non- doctors to "circle the wagon" just to protect physicians.
The Statement was meant to implore everyone involved to pause and to realize that all the grandstanding and the antics were causing an erosion in our people's confidence in almost all healthcare programs of the government; not just vaccinations.
As those on the ground will attest to, even deworming programs and things as innocuous as vision screening programs of the DOH are now looked upon with suspicion. In some areas, less than 1% of parents are consenting to having their children vaccinated or dewormed because of the actions of the people Mr Bello refers to as mere "pests".
This situation, if not halted, will lead to a resurgence of deadly epidemics of preventable diseases like our country has never seen since the advent of vaccines. And in a global society, what happens in the Philippines affects the world.
Think of the measles epidemic in Davao City and multiply this a hundred fold around the country to include other preventable diseases such as pertussis, mumps, rubella, typhoid, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and the near eradicated polio; all happening simultaneously because of the dismal rate of vaccinations.
This will happen with certainty if the present trend is not reversed. And this will happen within the Duterte administration and beyond. This prospect is far more dreadful than the increased risk by 0.2% of getting grade 1 and 2 dengue that may occur after Dengvaxia vaccination in seronegatives compared to those vaccinated after having gotten dengue before, and from which all have been reported to recover. This is according to the latest available worldwide scientific data.
But it is not the purpose of this reply to argue the real versus the hyped statistics of dengue risks or to hair split the conditional recommendation given by the WHO for the use of Dengvaxia in May 2016. We leave that to the policy makers who made that decision.
It is simply to clarify the main reason why over 600 people composed of concerned citizens, teachers, physicians and nurses who have direct contact with patients and parents, have signed the statement thus far.
It is not necessary for the persons who have signed the Statement in "doctorfortruth" to disclose if any are connected with Sanofi. This is not the point.
Although for the record I state that I have no professional or financial relationship with Sanofi. The persons who signed the statement despite their fear of being bashed in the aftermath should not be put on the defensive for giving a voice to the thousands who have been feeling helpless and have been suffering in silence for over two months in the face of all the sweeping statements and cruel accusations flying all over the place which we know in our hearts are wrong and harmful, and which have brought only more confusion, panic, and anger to an already agitated public.
It would have been a sin not to speak out.
Now that we have said our piece, we leave it up to our government, the public and media to either listen or ignore our message. We are not here to pick a fight. We come in peace. As healers we will continue to try to prevent the impending disaster by educating and calming our people even if we have to do it one patient at a time. And this is no easy task.
Mr Bello can Google us one by one if that is his pleasure. – Rappler.com
Dr Minguita Padilla (Ma. Dominga B. Padilla, MD, FPAO) is an ophthalmologist. She is a clinical associate professor of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital. She is also an active consultant at the St Luke’s Medical Center, Global City. She has no financial or professional relationship whatsoever with Sanofi.