Monthly Archives: October 2014

Health coverage

I just want to share one of the experiences I had when I was a health reporter.

At the height of the SARS scare in 2003, health reporters were at the forefront of relaying the latest update on the health malady.

The editors want a different perspective of the story so we were sent to visit the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, one of the DOH’s assigned government SARS centers in Metro Manila. (The other one was found in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.)

The plan was to write a news feature and a profile story from the interview with front line health workers who are directly handling suspected SARS patients.

The idea was quite scary isn’t it? We are not even covered by a medical insurance just in case me and my co-workers catch the virus during the coverage. Also, I have two little susceptible kids to worry about.

But there’s no turning back. We proceeded to RITM with only a surgical mask, pro mag, and alcohol as our protection.

My photographer was worried to enter the RITM premises, but I assure him we are not going to meet a patient inside as we are not allowed to do so.

The interview and hospital facility guided tour turn out well. Our story made it to the front and inside pages the following day.

We were also thankful that none of us got sick after the coverage.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, is a viral respiratory illness transmitted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and bodily secretions from an infected person. It manifests flu-like symptoms.

More kids drop out of school due to poverty

More children drop out of school even before reaching the sixth grade. I am citing an old survey conducted by a non-government organization in nine different provinces in the country bet. 2004 and 2005. A total of 1,600 children, seven to 10 years old were involved in the study.

The study is quite old. But I will emphasize on the reasons why children quit school.

* the need to take care of their younger siblings
* the help their family and earn their own money
* due to sickness and psycho-social issues

Based on the survey, the family of these children usually rely on a seasonal source of income like farming.

‘Extreme sadness’ was also noted to some children participants. Reasons were related to problems in family dynamics. They were usually scolded at home or have parents who always fight.

The study also noted a high incidence of malnutrition among Grade 1 pupils.

Grade 1 is a transition between pre-school and regular school, so there are a lot of adjustments on the part of a child. They are entering school for the first time, they adjust from a home setting where they can eat anything guided by the parents to a school setting without guidance. They are on their own in the school setting. (I wish they Learn more about us at

Forward to 2009 and the setting will be in Metro Manila.

Just how appropriate is the result of the survey to school-age children in Metro Manila?

Are kids residing in the cities luckier than their counterpart in the provinces.