Department of Health Central Visayas’ (DOH 7) and Cebu City Government’s program to fight TB evoked in me the same reaction as DOH’s Zero Open Defecation Program. Both are not preventive but rather curative, palliative and temporary.
If the avowed objective is to “manage and control the spread of TB” with a “Citywide TB elimination campaign,” why Pangitaa ang TB (Look for TB) for a program title?
TB can easily be found in congested informal settlements that lack sanitation facilities. In these places it can be found in one-room-affair shanties where family members practically cough and sneeze on one another and spit in public.
The same reaction because there is a convergence of beneficiaries in the two health programs. These are poor families that need decent homes in well-planned relocation sites that have adequate provision for sanitation facilities like running water, drainage, and a waste disposal system including and especially body waste.
Sumpoa ang TB (Prevent TB) would be a better title. What’s the use of finding TB and treating it if those who recover from it have to go back to their congested settlement areas that lack sanitation facilities, to their one-room shanties in mycobacterium tuberculosis’ breeding and spreading ground?
If we want to eliminate the dreaded disease, TB patients who recover from the treatment under the current program must not go back to the breeding ground of the dreaded mycobacterium. He/she must go back to a decent house in a well-planned relocation site that has running water and adequate sanitation facilities.
It is a glaring scandal in a Christian country that luxurious residences in first-class subdivisions and condominiums are going up all over; yet, to get to these world-class places one has to pass through the shanties of the poor.
Many of the workers in these subdivisions and condominiums probably reside in shanties built nearby or on the way to these luxurious havens of the rich.
Teeming millions of poor Filipinos living in the shadow of the luxurious residences of a few are not sights worthy of a Christian country. It is downright un-Christian. It definitely cannot be the will of God.
It would be a fitting quincentennial celebration for Catholic religious and lay leaders to adopt a program that provides decent housing to the poor in all parishes in the country.
(Catholic religious leaders could also denounce some Department of Agrarian Reform officials’ evil deed of depriving small farmers of their basic means of livelihood making them susceptible to TB and other diseases.)
Such activities would signal the birth of a new Christianity, one that, as Christ bids, is responsive to the needs of the whole person not just of his/her soul.