PH’s largest medical society denounces Gwen on tuob, calling out doctors
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The country’s largest organization of medical professionals denounced Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia on her advocacy on tuob (steam inhalation in English) as a solution to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and on calling out doctors who criticized her.
The Philippine Medical Association (PMA), in a three-page official statement dated June 24, 2020, condemned Garcia’s decision on promoting tuob and ‘publicly shaming’ two Cebu-based doctors expressing opposition to it.
“The Philippine Medical Association, which is the umbrella organization of physicians in the Philippines, denounces the recklessly imprudent assertions as well as the personal attacks made by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia in the video she released on June 23, 2020,” PMA stated.
“She belittled some doctors who took exception when she promoted the practice of tuob to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19),” the group added.
The statement was signed by its president, Dr. Jose Santiago Jr., and its secretary-general, Dr. Ricardo Batac.
PMA, composed of over 84,000 licensed doctors nationwide, said Garcia’s ‘demoralizing and unfair tirade against frontliner physicians worsened an already difficult situation’.
“Instead of thanking them for their priceless service and their good faith in promoting the correct safeguards and health protocols, she attacked their integrity and good name. This is completely unacceptable,” they said.
Garcia, in a live press conference last June 23, called out two doctors who posted unfavorable remarks about tuob or steam inhalation as means of alleviating symptoms of COVID-19, a practice the governor promotes. The governor, in a separate statement, also pointed out that the comments made went as far as threatening to slap her, burn down the Capitol, and cremate the workers doing tuob.
The incident escalated an already ongoing online debate whether or not the practice of tuob is effective in treating COVID-19.
But groups of medical professionals here in Cebu debunked claims that the steam inhalation can kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 while acknowledging that it has been cited by several scientific journals to give benefits for those experiencing symptoms similar to COVID such as nasal congestion and dry cough.
Experts: Tuob may spread the virus
PMA, as well as the Department of Health (DOH), also cautioned that the use of steam inhalation could only help spread the virus and not kill it.
“Contrary to Governor Garcia’s claims, tuob does not treat COVID-19. Worse, it may facilitate the virus’s aerosolization and contamination of nearby persons, objects, or surfaces. Equally as disturbing, it may foster a false sense of security and well-being that in turn may cause an infected person to spread the virus,” said PMA.
“While the practice of tuob may offer relief to the person, it unduly increases the risk of virus spread and transmission to nearby individuals, surfaces (for example, the floor where the container was placed), or objects (for example, the piece of cloth used to cover the person, the exposed chair or table, etc.),” they added.
The group also said that Garcia’s intentions on promoting tuob is ‘counterproductive, irresponsible, and dangerous.
“As a public figure, her statements carry weight among her constituents… In the same manner, it is the responsibility of the PMA and all concerned parties to call out harmful statements that will adversely affect public health and cause an increase in active cases. When doctors fulfill this duty, it should not result in personal attacks, especially from one who is supposed to be a public servant,” PMA stated.
Garcia has denied that she has advocated tuob as a cure for COVID-19, and added that the Capitol was merely providing an alternative for the public to help them in easing symptoms of the disease.
Data from DOH in Central Visayas showed that as of June 24, they have recorded a total of 761 coronavirus cases in Cebu province. It is the local government in the region with the second-highest number of COVID-19 patients, next to Cebu City with 5,088. /dbs
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