By Ric Saludo
Ed’s note: The author was cabinet secretary during the SARS1/MERS outbreak in 2003, and was president of CenSEI (Center for Strategy, Enterprise, and Intelligence)
In responding to the Mega Manila ECQ demand from medical professional groups, the government should make sure to check if non-COVID deaths surged under lockdown.
Notably, loss of jobs and income can lead to thousands of deaths if layoffs, work suspensions, and business disruptions leave the sick unable to afford needed drugs and treatments.
For instance, neoplasm (cancer, causing 64,125 deaths) and cerebrovascular (strokes 59,774) cause more than 120,000 fatalities a year.
If loss of income due to ECQ makes just those two categories of deaths rise 1% from inability to pay for needed medication or treatment, that’s 1,200 deaths right there attributable to ECQ.
And with more than 22,000 kidney disease deaths annually, if lockdown income losses make dialysis unaffordable, that could add maybe 300 more deaths. So, just considering three leading causes of death, lost income due to ECQ can kill 1,500 more people.
Add to that the deaths caused by illness from severe hunger, now afflicting more than 7 million Filipinos, up 3 million with ECQ between March and June. If just 0.1% of that addition died of hunger-related ailments, that’s 3,000 more deaths.
Hence, ECQ can be said to cause nearly 5,000 deaths a year from just three kinds of illness, plus hunger. This is what must be balanced against just over 2,000 Covid-19 deaths. (IA/DS)