PHILIPPINES AND CHINA’S EXPERIENCE WITH THE PLAGUE OF THE CENTURY

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Service Institute along with Philippine Archipelago international Trading Corporation presented a webinar featuring prominent figures in Traditional Chinese Medicine which was instrumental in the pandemic management in China.

The webinar, entitled “Learning from the China Experience – Control and Surge Prevention”, featured prominent Chinese medical figures such as Academician Zhang Boli, Honorary President of the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and recipient of the national honorary title of People’s Hero in August 2020 & Dr. Jia Zhenhua, Chief Physician of TCM, Doctoral Supervisor and President of Hebei Institute of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine. 

PHILIPPINES AND CHINA’S EXPERIENCE WITH THE PLAGUE OF THE CENTURY

On the Philippine side, guests were able to listen talks from two of the most important figures in our fight against COVID-19 – National Task Force Deputy Chief Implementor and Testing Czar Secretary Vince Dizon & NTF Contact Tracing Czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong. 

The program started with a few words from Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Hon. Teodoro Locsin, Jr.  During this address he thanked the co-presenters, the Chinese diplomatic core and the distinguished guests and speakers. He also set the stage of our current COVID-19 situation stating over 4 Million deaths and 186 Million infections and counting globally. “This webinar highlights knowledge sharing as one of if not the most essential form of cooperation in managing COVID-19.  The slogan is:  No one is safe unless everyone is safe.” he said.

The first speaker, Mayor Benjamin Magalong discussed the case study of Baguio City and how it navigated through the pandemic. He discussed how proactive contact tracing efforts and control efforts enabled them to control spreads, something he likened to a Hammer & Dance situation. More importantly, he discussed the importance of the PDITR strategy, which is Prevent, Detect, Isolate, Treat, and Reintegrate strategy. This strategy simple cuts off transmission chain. He added how vital cooperation was to the efficacy of all preventive and control efforts, not only to Baguio City. The implementation of a top-down, side-to-side, and bottom-up approach basically ensures that the paramount objective of having a proper communication and information dissemination to the entire community, involving all sectors of society, is met. Towards the end of his presentation, he touched on the city’s Recovery and Resiliency Plan as well as their goal of becoming a Smart City by 2022.

Secretary Vince Dizon reported on the National Vaccination Program. He thanked the Chinese foreign service representatives for their continuous supplies of Chinese vaccines which to date is still the country’s most largest supplier of COVID-19 Vaccines at 11 million procured doses plus 1 million donated. He had also thanked Philippine Archipelago International Trading Corporation President, Olivia Limpe-Aw, as EUA Holder of Sputnik V Vaccines, for the continuous supply of the vaccine. 

Dr. Jia Zhenhua then moved on to discussing the utilization of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the prevention and treatment of respiratory infectious disease in China. During his talk, he broke down COVID-19 based on Collateral Disease Theory and discussed how this is treated through the approach of Traditional Chinese medicine. One treatment of note that was mentioned was Lianhua Qingwen capsule, already widely used and distributed in major drugstores in the Philippines.

Academician Zhang Boli, one of the most prominent figures in China’s fight against COVID-19 begins his presentation explaining why COVID, to him, is considered the “Plague of the Century.” He expounded by showing data driven effects and evolution of the virus. After his brief introduction on the effects and symptoms of Covid in China, he stressed how preventive measures were executed. He discussed the importance of early intervention to reduce severe conversion rate and the integration of Chinese and Western medicine with comprehensive rehabilitation treatment such as breathing training, physical therapy, Taichi etc. , psycho-therapy to prevent after effects of the Covid-19 infection such as physical injury (damage to immune function, heart, lung and kidney) and psychological trauma such as insomnia, anxiety and depression. He had also introduced Xuanfei Baidu Decoction, another traditional Chinese medicine widely used in China’s fight against COVID-19. He had earlier stressed the importance of medication. “Quarantine without medicine is only half the success,” he said through an interpreter. Academician Zhang Boli shared how they shared this knowledge with the world through donations of traditional Chinese medicine, Lianhua Qingwen to different countries. Exchange of knowledge (like this webinar) were also done in other countries.

Vaccination is very important but even when vaccinated we should not forget the usual daily personal and household prevention measures and emotion management – keep positive, avoid anxiety and have a healthy lifestyle. 

Philippine Archipelago International Trading Corporation President, Olivia Limpe-Aw, started to close the webinar by thanking the speakers as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Foreign Service Institute who spearheaded this webinar.  She summarized the webinar and drew the conclusion that there are definitely similarities in terms of experiences, government policies and values of both countries. In fact, significant learnings gathered from all panelists cover early intervention, quarantine with medication is key, integration of Chinese and western medicine with rehabilitation treatment all help to increase curative rate and reduce mortality rate. 

Learning that there are two other TCM to treat COVID-19 aside from Lianhua Qingwen is something new to us so it has expanded our knowledge on TCM and that there are other options that we hope will be available in the Philippines in the next few months since it looks like COVID-19 isn’t going to be over that easily, so we will have to deal with it -manage, mitigate so we can all move on and bring back normalcy to our lives. 

This webinar was attended by Ambassadors, local government officials, health officers, hospital administrators, health workers and the media.

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