02 November 2004

--- The Height of Indifference

In a corrupt society, military generals can have green cards, own hectares of land, reside in New York's topnotch addresses, possess multiple bank accounts in millions of pesos and dollars while soldiers in the battlefield complain of defective guns, worn-out boots, and become oblivious victims of expired antibiotics.

Since reconnoitering hidden wealth will never be an expertise of mine, I will limit myself on the discussion of expired antibiotics.

Here are the alarming news items:

AFP information officer Lieutenant Colonel Buenaventura Pascual said some of the medicines in the military stockpile could still be administered even if they had expired in January (this year).

They had not yet expired when the Fort Bonifacio hospital received them as a donation, he said.

"I personally verified with the company and I was told that the medicines were still good six months after they expired," Pascual told the Inquirer in a phone interview. "In the first place, our doctors would not prescribe them if they would harm our soldiers." [INQ7.Net]

Here's the Manila Times version:

Myrna David, a nurse at the Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Makati City, said one such dated medicine, the antibiotic penicillin, was injected into soldiers recovering from an operation for wounds suffered in the battlefield.

Many of the patients who were administered the penicillin complained of chest pains, she said. David said that in March she noticed that a vial of penicillin bore a January 2004 expiry date. [Manila Times]

In a pathetic society, pharmaceutical companies donate medicines which are about to expire, and when they do expire, assure everyone that they are still good for months after the expiry date.

What kind of charity is that? Is that the kind of charity you want? Soldiers fight with life and limb and when they get wounded, they get injected with expired antibiotics. And you wonder why the Oakwood mutineers were so incensed with the current system?

Do have to be a doctor to know that expired medicines are not recommended to be given anymore?

Read this for some basic education on expired medicines.

What makes my blood boil is the nonchalance exhibited by everyone involved: the doctor-hospital administrator who allowed this to happen, the hospital staff, the AFP spokesman, and the pharmaceutical company who donated the medicines.

Also, what's wrong with this statement?

"In the first place, our doctors would not prescribe them if they would harm our soldiers." [INQ7.Net]

Who are we kidding here?

While it is true that doctors will not allow any harm to patients, it is also true that they do not go to hospital pharmacies to personally check the expiration dates of medical supplies. It is NOT their job. If it was their job, then it will take away most of their time better put at looking after other patients. Checking expiration dates falls within the jurisdiction of the pharmacist, nurses, and those who procured those medicines.

Also, common sense (how foolish of me to suppose they have this!) dictates that medicines that are nearing expiration shouldn't be procured anymore, or, if as in this case, a donation, shouldn't be accepted anymore.

Most of our problems can be solved by having enough common sense and conscience.

Alas! We have neither.

And so, we suffer.

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