Nalzaro: ‘Tuob,’ a money-making venture?


Are some Cebu City Hall officials benefitting from promoting “tuob” (steam inhalation), a traditional and alternative way to help contain but not cure the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)? Are they promoting it to make money? I pose this question in view of the move of some members of the City Council to investigate the practice of “tuob” by Covid-19 patients confined in various Barangay Isolation Centers (BICs).

Opposition Councilor Alvin Dizon of the Bando Osmeña Pundok

Kauswagan cited social and mainstream media reports that the City Government purchased “tuob” kits at P2,500 each which were then given to Covid-19 patients for free without the council’s knowledge. That must have cost millions considering there are hundreds of patients at various BICs.

It was administration Councilor Jerry Guardo of the Barug PDP Laban, who introduced “tuob” and made it his advocacy. Guardo is no stranger to alternative medicine as his family pioneered and was once into the business of alternative medicine. His family introduced “reflexology” in the ‘80s and later produced herbal medicines.

Dizon said they don’t know who introduced “tuob” to Covid-19 patients or where the budget for the kits’ purchase came from. Dizon said he will ask Guardo why he pursued the project when there was no approved appropriation from the council to purchase the “tuob” kit and notwithstanding medical experts’ advisory that “tuob” is not a cure for Covid-19?

But Guardo, in an interview with this columnist over radio dySS, said the budget was part of the lump sum appropriation approved by the council for the City’s Covid-19 pandemic response. The “tuob” kit passed through canvassing and was procured by the executive department. The “tuob” kit is composed of a kettle, a small basin, a small towel and a monoblock chair. Guardo denied that he had a hand in the procurement of the kit. He also said he did not recommend a supplier.

Guardo said each patient in the BICs was given one set so they can do their own “tuob” without sharing it with other patients to avoid transmission of the virus. After they were discharged, they could take it with them so they could continue performing it in their respective homes. While admitting that “tuob” is not a cure for Covid-19, it can relieve the breathing system of a Covid patient as it can decongest nasal passages and the respiratory system. It will also boost one’s immune system. The symptoms of Covid-19 include severe flu, cough and runny noise. It is just like a nebulizer for asthma patients. There were a lot of testimonies that they were relieved and even “cured” from Covid-19 by performing “tuob.”

Under Republic Act 8423, also known as the Traditional and Alternative Medicines Act of 1997, the practice is encouraged. But licensed medical practitioners are questioning “tuob” as it has no medical and scientific basis that it will cure Covid-19. Even the Department of Health (DOH) discouraged the practice as it will not kill the virus.

Are there really City Hall officials who made money by advocating “tuob?” I am not accusing anybody of corruption but I believe there are people, especially government officials, who are taking advantage of the pandemic for their personal gain. Daghang nakakuwarta aning health crisis.

A crisis creates opportunities and the bigger the crisis, the more ambitious and plentiful the opportunists. The guaranteed market for Covid-19 medical supplies makes an excellent business opportunity for corrupt government officials and individuals. We have been hearing about overpriced medical supplies and equipment and even overpriced purchases of goods for relief operations for affected residents. The more this health crisis will prolong, corruption will also flourish. Daghang madatu inig human aning Covid crisis. Believe me.


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