21 June 2009
As of June 20, 2009, there are now 392 confirmed H1N1 cases in the Philippines. This is the report by Mariz Umali of Saksi courtesy of GMANews.tv:
This is Update No. 46 from the DOH website:
We have seen Secretary Duque of the DOH going the rounds assuring everybody that there is no need to be concerned about H1N1 because all we've had here in the Philippines are mild cases. We should all be thankful for that.
However, I believe now is the time for Secretary Duque and our officials at the Department of Health to start talking more in public about the possible dangers that lie ahead based on historical precedents and what the entire nation can do to prepare for any future eventuality.
For example, the public's attention should be called to the existence of cytokine storms and their reported role in the grievously devastating toll in the number of deaths during the 1918 Spanish influenza global pandemic.
Cytokine storms are not science fiction. They have happened in the past and one of the most authoritative pieces of literature on the subject is this article, written by Michael T. Osterholm, Ph. D., entitled Preparing for the Next Pandemic. It appeared in the May 5, 2005 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, the associate directory of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, and a professor of public health at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Although the article by Dr. Osterholm discusses cytokine storms in relation to H5N1 or the avian flu, the general principle remains the same when applied to the current H1N1 flu virus.
At the end of his article, Dr. Osterholm posed the question, "Is there anything we can do to avoid this course [meaning, the potentially large number of casualties in the event of the next global pandemic]?
And this is his answer:
The answer is a qualified yes that depends on how everyone, from world leaders to local elected officials, decides to respond. We need bold and timely leadership at the highest levels of the governments in the developed world; these governments must recognize the economic, security, and health threats posed by the next influenza pandemic and invest accordingly. The resources needed must be considered in the light of the eventual costs of failing to invest in such an effort. The loss of human life even in a mild pandemic will be devastating, and the cost of a world economy in shambles for several years can only be imagined.
I guess few people have credentials similar to Dr. Osterholm's. Prudence dictates that we should at least spend a few moments to read and investigate further what he has to say.