Inutile and deadly

By now, the state of (un)preparedness of the national and local governments to the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak is very clear.

All they have done so far are issuances of executive orders, memos, resolutions, and warnings, and creation of task forces with fancy and kilometric names.

But from a logistical point of view, there is severe lack of protective equipment, especially for the frontliners.

From a theoretical perspective, we’re still knee jerkers (or jerks with knees?), never prepared.

Executive orders, meetings, and task forces are nothing but public relations fodders to project governor this or mayor that as the fastest to respond as if this is a horse race.

In reality, we’re going to battle naked, with barangay health emergency response teams told to watch out for suspected cases sans protection. Local government units (LGUs) are just about to procure them. This scenario is like wearing paper raincoats under the rain or going to war with wooden toy guns.

And it is only now that our LGUs realized the need to put up isolation or special wards for infections like the 2019 nCoV. Knee jerk reaction indeed.

In other countries, epidemics are included in their preparedness plans and they conduct regular drills to check the viability and integrity of their systems. They also have ready equipment to be used when outbreaks happen. In short, they have methodological and logistical approaches to medical and health emergencies, something that is missing in the Philippine setting.

We already had SARS, MERS-CoV, and other epidemics before, but we never learned, planned, and prepared. We only react, then resort to damage control and PR campaigns.

We should also blame ourselves for choosing officials who are more concerned with their vested interest after every three years instead of establishing protocols and systems that protect public welfare.

This institutional inutility is more fearsome, even deadlier, than the virus itself.