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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?
Listen to other Seat of Power episodes:
- Episode 1: COVID-19 ward doctor assesses Duterte’s pandemic response
- Episode 2: Duterte’s hands all over ABS-CBN franchise rejection
- Episode 3: The frightening future of Duterte’s anti-terror law
- Episode 4: Duterte’s 2020 SONA in 5 minutes
- Episode 5: What happens if Duterte gets COVID-19?
Listen to Rappler’s podcasts on Soundcloud, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts.