MANILA, Philippines – After patients recover from the deadly coronavirus, what’s next?
In a Facebook live by Public Health Communications Advisory Network (PHCAN) among coronavirus survivors, Dr Joey Hernandez urged those who have recoverd to help the research and experiment of Filipino doctors in treating COVID-19.
One example is to donate blood to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and contribute in its groundbreaking treatment to help patients with severe coronavirus symptoms.
As of Saturday, April 11, the Department of Health reported a total of 157 recoveries. With 233 new coronavirus cases in the country, the total number of positive cases in the Philippines rose to 4,428.
“I think 'yun 'yung dapat purpose natin bilang survivors: turning this negative experience as having COVID into something beneficial and positive for the society by paying forward,” Dr Hernandez said.
(I think our purpose as survivors is to turn this negative experience of having COVID-19 into something beneficial and positive for the society by paying forward)
“'Yan 'yung call for the next survivors. I hope maraming survivors and i-consider niyo rin by donating your blood as well,” he added. (That's the call to action for the next survivors. I hope many survivors consider donating their blood as well)
Under the experiment, patients who recovered from the virus undergo the process of apheresis blood donation, where convalescent plasma will be extracted from donors. The convalescent plasma contains antibodies which can neutralize the virus, and may be transfused to severely ill COVID-19 patients to help improve their condition.
Fighting fear with facts
The call was echoed by PH377, another survivor who opted to remain anonymous to keep his privacy.
According to him, by paying it forward, survivors can help fight stigma against patients and at the same time contribute to the greater goal of ending the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Nagdonate ako ng aking dugo at sana makatulong hanggang sa tatlong pasyente. Isa po yun sa masasabi kong best life milestones kasi alam ko na hindi lang yun mababaliktad yung stigma kung hindi… makatulong sa mga tao at dumami ang katulad namin na nagsasalita ngayon,” PH377 said.
Reports of discrimination against healthcare workers, patients, and their relatives run high on social media.
Having experienced the stigma first-hand, Dr Noel Tangco, another survivor, explained that it is rooted largely in fear of the unknown. He shared how his family was discrminated after a message initially meant to be shared with close relatives went viral outside their Viber group.
“Halo-halo mga reactions. May mga nagalit sa amin. Ako, hindi ko mablame yung mga tao sa naramdaman nila especially in this time na hindi natin maintindihan na may sakit na walang gamot” Dr Tangco shared.
(There were mixed reactions. Others got angry at us. I don't blame them for what they feel, especially at this time that we do not understand this illness which has no remedy.)
For Dr Hernandez, one way to fight the fear and stigma associated with the virus is through facts.
“Yung mga tao kasi, takot kasi hindi nila totally nauunawaan ang COVID... Tungkulin natin na tulungan bawasan ang takot at pangamba ng mga tao sa pamamagitan ng una, alamin kung saan nangngagaling ang mga takot at agam-agam; at pangalawa, pagbigay ng solusyon at provide ng verified, correct, understandable and relatable information to the general public,” Hernandez said.
(People are afraid because they don't fully understand COVID. It's our responsibility to help ease the fear by understanding that people don't know about the virus and then provide verified, correct, understandable and relatable information to the general public) – Rappler.com
Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.