Treatment of frontliners amid pandemic ‘difficult to stomach,’ says medicine board topnotcher

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2021 09:51 AM

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MANILA – The treatment of healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic is 'difficult to stomach,' the topnotcher of the September 2021 Physician’s Licensure Exam said Monday.

“That was actually one of the things during our review that was very difficult to stomach,” Dr. Jude Philip Pozon Cebrecus of Cebu Institute of Medicine said in an ANC interview. 

"It was very discouraging, disheartening to hear how these healthcare workers are risking their lives everyday, in the hospital, and then in return, we get bashed on social media," he said.

"People tend to dismiss what we say as something, something like fiction. Like we’re constantly vying, like encouraging people to be vaccinated, and then here are a lot of people saying that, ''Oh, that’s not true." 

"And then people tend to listen more to like, their neighbors, and I know like it’s very disheartening to hear kasi all of us went through like a lot of years of education, and then there’s falling on deaf ears," he lamented.

He said he is also saddened seeing nurses go on strike so that government would release their hazard pay and other benefits.

“It’s very difficult to serve in this pandemic because maybe sometimes, people forget that physicians and our allied healthcare workers are people too and we also fear for our lives.”

“So going to the hospital, it requires a huge amount of courage and I admire all of our frontliners for risking their lives every day to serve the people. But then again I just pray and I hope that these healthcare workers would be properly compensated for the risk they are putting themselves through,” he said.

Cebrecus also called on government to “actually listen to science” when asked how he thinks the Philippines can do better in terms of the pandemic response.

“I would say, a certain point to improve on would be listening to the experts and actually listening to science. Here in medicine when we study we do evidence-based medicine. So there’s so many rampant reports about like, government officials trying to pass ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 when there has been so many articles debunking ivermectin as a treatment modality for COVID-19 infection.”

“So I think one thing that the government can do would be to listen to actual physicians, or actual doctors, epidemiologists, and listening to their suggestions even on what would be greatly benefit our country,” he said.

The youngest in a family of doctors, Cebrecus said he is now looking forward to pursuing a residency in internal medicine, his home province. 

He added, however, that he remains open to the idea of working as a doctor to the barrios or serving the less fortunate in a public hospital.

“I decided to go into residency training immediately because I want to further myself. And I want to become a better physician as soon as I can to my future patients,” he said.

“Of course like serving in public hospitals or doctor to the barrios, it’s not closed doors for me so there’s always that opportunity to serve the public also in the back of my head."

"But as of now, I’d want to be more confident in myself so that’s why I want to get to my training program of choice here in Cebu as soon as possible."

--ANC, 27 September 2021