President Duterte has used science and hard data, not “medical populism,” to address the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Wednesday.

081118 ROQUEPRESSCON ROMERO bfdbdfb - It’s science and hard data, not ‘medical populism’ for PH –Roque
Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government has carried out concrete steps to curb the spread of the virus as well as consulted concerned health and economic sectors in crafting its action plan.

Roque tried to brush aside a global study that showed the country’s supposed dismal effort to suppress the pandemic due to Duterte’s alleged “medical populism,” a leadership style that supposedly simplifies and dramatizes the public health crisis and that pits the people against the establishment.

“The President, together with the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), has met the challenges of COVID-19 head-on, with science and hard data guiding the Chief Executive’s decisions and actions, contrary to the ‘medical populism’ leadership style issue raised by some quarters,” Roque said.

“The Duterte Administration has put in place concrete interventions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, which includes ramping up the country’s testing capacity, enhancing contact tracing efforts, and scaling up of local health system capacity, especially for community isolation and critical care,” he added.

According to Roque, the government’s national action plan to fight the coronavirus also took into consideration the position of concerned stakeholders.

“The national government’s approach is whole-of-government and whole-of-society, where every sector from public health to economics has been consulted, to ensure that the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is addressed in our National Action Plan,” he said.

In a study conducted The Lancet medical journal, the Philippines placed 66th out of 91 countries in suppressing the coronavirus partly due to Duterte’s supposed medical populism. The county fell in the category of “moderate transmission” with 37.5 new infections and 0.5 new deaths per million per day for the month of August.

The study defined “medical populism” as “simplifying the pandemic by downplaying its impacts or touting easy solutions or treatments, spectacularizing their responses to crisis, forging divisions between the ‘people’ and dangerous ‘others,’ and making medical knowledge claims to support the above.”

The same study lumped Duterte together with US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for their alleged poor efforts  in curbing the outbreak.

The Philippine government initially imposed strict coronavirus lockdown back in March to contain the spread of the illness. A few months a later, it started to relax the quarantine measures to stimulate the weak economy. Recently, the President said only a safe and effective coronavirus could resolve the public health emergency that has affected people’s lives and the economy.

The country’s coronavirus cases have risen to 294,591 as of September 23 with 5,091 deaths and 231,373 recoveries.

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