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Monday, April 23, 2012

Where Are The Doctors?

In the Philippines, while rich and powerful people get the most privileges, little people are deprived of almost everything- and would you believe even with their government doctors?

I work as a pharmacist in a generic drugstore designed for people who want cheaper medicines. Every day, I talk to customers explaining to them the difference between the generic and branded drugs. Most of my customers are from the lower class- still ignorant and in need of assistance regarding the concept of medicine. Sadly, these people usually undergo self medication- bad that they are not being diagnosed by a registered physician and worse that they are always buying the wrong medicine for their ailments.

No money

With the crisis going on, most drugstores in the Philippines normally let customers buy OTC medicine and even Rx drugs, providing them with proper instructions and information about the medications they are buying. But when it comes to serious conditions, customers are being advised to see a doctor first, specifically if a young child or infant is involved.

Unfortunately, eight out of ten of these people would risk their health by buying unfamiliar medicine suggested by friends rather than seek help from a real doctor. Two reasons: Private Doctors are expensive and government doctors are hard to find.

No doctors

The Philippine government provides health care units for every municipality. These health units consist of doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives. The aim of these facilities is to provide health education, free medicine and other medical services for its people, particularly for those who couldn’t afford these necessities. While some of these facilities are still unavailable in some parts of the country, in particular those beyond the reach of the government, those towns with these services still fail to support those people who needed help.

Just recently, we have been receiving prescriptions made by midwives. In the absence of the physician, these can be acceptable. The funny thing about it was that, ‘the prescriber’ seemed no to know the drug he was recommending. The capsule was abbreviated cup instead of cap; The teaspoon was abbreviated TBSP for tablespoon, when a four year old child should be taking it; No strength indicated, the pharmacy personnel would have to ask how old the person taking it and one must understand that the dosage of the drug also depends on the weight of the patient and severity of the disease; And more disturbingly, the generic name of the medicine didn’t make sense with the brand.

Now, we may ask? Where was the doctor? Took a stroll somewhere while the midwives performed the job for him?

Can’t afford people waste their time and wait in line just to be diagnosed by midwives? It is no wonder; these people would definitely turn to self medication.

Then again, being thoughtful, government doctors could have been on a seminar or they could have some emergencies elsewhere, every week. It is really unfair for them not to have time for themselves with the exemption of Saturday and Sunday offs. And whatever happened to the Hippocrates oath?

Considering the problem closely, we may ask the government, is the salary of our government doctors not enough for them to do their job well? And is this also the reason, why most of them fly to other countries to become nurses instead of serving their own people?

No hope?

I am not a political person. My only concern is the well being of my customers- their right for a proper health care. But it seems like, any problems involving people are always linked to its government.

Political leaders are not perfect. Most of them make bad impressions by enjoying some privileges they deserve. How can they resist depriving themselves of a luxurious dinner in a foreign country while hundreds of Filipino people young and old die of hunger? And did I mention that they ate with the country’s money?
They say that people make their government. It is not the fault of the leaders of whatever ill fate befalls to its country. It is always the decision of the people. But how can a sick, illiterate or a jobless person make a wise decision? As it would turn out, he will only be bought by some influential shark.

(c) Phoenix Montoya 2010

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