Malilong: Dengue and RBCC

DENGUE cases are rising and the blood supply is running dry.

Cebu Daily News reported yesterday that dengue patients in need of blood transfusion will have to fend for themselves because the Red Cross could not cope with the rising demand and the Department of Health (DOH) Sub-National Blood Center for the Visayas could not be depended upon either.

So that is how they call themselves now, the SNBCV instead of the Regional Blood Council or RBC. Same dog, different collar.

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It was the RBC’s insistence on the strict implementation of a DOH memorandum circular that led to the death of the Regional Blood Coordinating Council (RBCC) this year. Until then, the RBCC was a reliable partner in providing safe blood supply to patients from Cebu and the neighboring islands.

The sad thing is that both the RBCC and the DOH knew about the possibility of a shortage in blood supply if the former shuts down. In one of their meetings, Provincial Board Member Agnes Magpale, the RBCC’s last chairperson before it was “executed” by the DOH, asked the government representative if they could assure the public that they will be able to meet their blood requirements. No, came the answer.

In fairness to DOH Regional Director Susana Madarieta, she did everything to save the RBCC but she too had to bow down to her boss’s interpretation of the law that ironically was intended to promote sufficiency of safe blood supply.

The RBC had claimed that they alone had the authority to act as a blood collecting unit and that if the RBCC wanted to help, it can only do so by taking care of the educational campaign component. The RBCC chose to close rather than play the limited role.

Curiously, the DOH chose the RBCC last week as one of its awardees for its contribution to the blood supply campaign of the government. The irony was not lost on most RBCC officials.

It was like the driver of a wayward truck coming back to confer a medal of valor on his deceased victim. I won’t be surprised if no one from the RBCC came to accept the posthumous recognition.

The RBCC was successful because it was able to enlist the support of civic clubs like the Rotary and many local government units. The RBC apparently has not been able to inspire the same level of confidence from these groups.

The report confirmed Magpale’s worst fears. There isn’t enough blood supply to serve the needs of the increasing number of dengue patients. I think that it is only fair that those responsible for killing the RBCC should be made to donate blood until they turn blue.
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