A Photoshoot Does Not Cost Three Billion

What should we think when we see a head of a household purchase a smartphone on a loan instead of buying food for his or her family who are barely eating one meal a day? With a smartphone, of course, one can keep in touch with friends and family. One can even browse through Facebook. Perhaps, this is a good intention. However, a good intention is not enough to justify such waste especially when we are not meeting so many other much more basic needs. We indeed expect so much more from a parent. Yet, we do not seem to expect the same from a national leader. More than three billion were spent on a vaccine that was still unproven. In fact, it is now known to be likely harmful to some. Billions and billions were likewise spent on a basic education program that was not of utmost importance. Similar to the dengvaxia vaccine, the supporting evidence was also weak and more importantly, the potential for harm was there, 

Above copied from BusinessWorld

On the dengue vaccine, the former president of the Philippines Aquino made so many claims that actually illustrate how much lacking the Philippines Senate is in intellect. When Aquino falsely stated that the vaccine was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, there was no debunking. And when Aquino told that millions of dengue cases were already in the horizon for the Philippines, no one in the Senate tried to quash this grossly unfounded assertion. Ironically, the former president also mentioned in the same statement the importance of not sowing fear in the public.

Above copied from the World Health Organization

Epidemiology is a serious discipline and Aquino is definitely not qualified to project the extent of an outbreak. For the first three months of this year, the number of reported dengue cases for the entire world is about 50,000.

What is lacking in the Senate, fortunately, is present in some citizens of the Philippines. Here is one, a former health official, Dr. Susan Mercado:

I find it very disturbing that President Aquino opened his statement yesterday with data that borders on the absurd.
He said that there was an increase in dengue cases by 100% in Region 3 and 5 and 1,409.5% in Region 8. "What is frightening here is, if there are an estimated 200,000 cases of dengue each year, and it is possible for them to increase 14 times like what happened in Region 8, the number of those who may potentially be infected is 2.8 million".
A quick search will show that the entire Western Pacific Region (including China, Fiji, Viet Nam and other countries with dengue problems) with a total population of 1.9 billion people only reported 500,000 cases in 2016. (WHO Western Pacific Region Dengue Fact Sheet)
Students of public health will quickly point out that you cannot take an increased incidence rate of dengue in a LOCALITY and multiply it by the NATIONAL number of cases.
There may have been a number of reasons for hyperactivity of the mosquitoes in Region 8, but mosquitoes can only live for 2-3 days, and they can only fly for 400 meters. So an outbreak is usually localized.
It is inconsistent for President Aquino to say that governments role is "to calm people down" while he did just the opposite. Using a speculative mathematical twist he has scared the public into thinking that we could have as many as 2.8 million cases of dengue.
Is this faulty statistic the justification for buying 3.0 billion worth of vaccines that had never been tested in a population - at phenomenal speed?
No, we cannot possibly be in any imaginable situation where we would have 2.8 million cases of dengue. No country in this region has ever had numbers close to this. Viet Nam, has always had the largest number of cases, and at its peak it was close to a million cases.
With due respect, that opening statement was alarmist, cannot be backed up by epidemiological modeling and is yet another insult to the intelligence of the public health community in this country.

And 
Rebecca T. AƱonuevo did not fail to see the striking similarity between Dengvaxia and K to 12.

The calm demeanor of ex-President Aquino is cold remorselessness in my view. So typical of people in positions of power. That’s how the teachers of an expensive college in QC got kicked out, in spite of their tenure. We were after the best interest of teachers and the school, they said. That’s how K12 was implemented: We look after the best interest of the nation, Aquino and Armin said. In spite of the massive displacement of teachers (may namatay ba sa gutom sa atin?), and the impending ignorance of a generation ill prepared but forced to swallow the bitter pill of a neo-colonial education that becomes more and more inaccessible to ordinary Filipinos. Mahinay magsalita pero nginungudngod ang taumbayan. Hindi ko namimiss ang dating Pangulo. At hindi siya maisasalba ng bad science. Kung puwedeng pumugot ng ulo si Solomon, harinawa, dahil ang namumuno ay nagpatunay ng katangahan o katamaran sa pagpapasiya sa buhay at kinabukasan ng daan-libong bata ng ating bansa.

But the above people are not in the Senate. The above people are only heard on social media where supporters of the previous administration are also present. These supporters cannot be bothered with Dengvaxia and K to 12. They would rather spend time criticizing a photoshoot that recently happened in the presidential palace. A photoshoot does not cost three billion and will not possibly harm thousands of children. And by the way, a photoshoot likewise does not cost 150 billion.


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