Rodrigo Duterte

[PODCAST] Duterte, Trump, Bolsonaro: The ‘medical populists’

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[PODCAST] Duterte, Trump, Bolsonaro: The ‘medical populists’
The presidents of the United States, Brazil, and the Philippines are populists who have lost control of the COVID-19 outbreaks in their countries

What do presidents Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and Rodrigo Duterte have in common?

They’re populist leaders of countries with out-of-control COVID-19 transmissions. Is there a connection between their leadership style and the dismal pandemic situation in their countries?

Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada talks to physician and medical anthropologist Gideon Lasco about “medical populism” – a political style that uses division and over-simplification of complex problems during a health crisis.

“We define it as a style of political response to health crises that divides people and other establishments. So that’s one feature. It makes a spectacle out of a crisis. It rests on drama, dramatic responses, dramatizing discourse, dramatic language,” Lasco says.

But one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed is the limits of medical populism. In the case of Duterte, we saw this when he grudgingly acceded to the demands of exhausted medical frontliners.

What lessons can we take from this trend of medical populism and how can countries under such leaders rein in their coronavirus outbreaks?

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