In pursuit of a good story

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS is a viral respiratory illness transmitted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and bodily secretions from an infected person. It manifests flu-like symptoms.

At the height of the SARS scare in 2003, DOH (Department of Health) beat people have no other recourse but to cover and write about the latest update on the health malady.

I want a different perspective of the story so I designate myself to visit the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, one of the DOH’s assigned government SARS centers in Metro Manila. The other one was found in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

I have planned to come up with a news feature and a profile story from the interview with front line health workers who are directly handling suspected SARS patients.

The idea is quite scary isn’t it? What was I thinking then? We are not even covered by a medical insurance just in case me and my co-workers catch the virus during the coverage. I don’t even have the slightest idea of the existing life insurance rates. Also, I have two little susceptible kids to worry about.

But there’s no turning back. With only surgical masks and alcohol as our protection we proceeded to RITM.

My photographer was all worried to enter the RITM premises, but I assure him we are not going to meet a patient inside as we are not allowed to do so.

The interview and hospital facility guided tour turn out well. I felt good about myself as only few print reporters at the time including those from TV were able to visit the SARS referral center.

I did it all for the love of my job and goal to get a first hand account. After all the worries, I get to see my story published the following day.

Fortunately, none of us get sick after the coverage. Thank God.

Over the counter prenatal vitamins

If you are an expectant mom, there are a lot of things to consider before taking any medicine or vitamins. Prenatal check-up is a must for pregnant women. Doctors monitor the development of both mother and child. Only doctors can tell you if you need any medication or vitamins to keep you and your unborn baby in top form. They will give you prescription of certain vitamins that you can purchase in drugstores. You can always visit the nearest private or public hospitals in your area to avail prenatal services and you will know what I’m talking about. Just a piece of advice, consult your OB-Gyne first before buying over the counter prenatal vitamins. The same care should be exercised in taking food or beverages that aren’t fit for consumption by pregnant women. Just be wary of anything you take for your sake and your unborn child’s health.

Keep you hands clean

Children are exposed to germs that cause a number of illnesses when they are in crowded areas like school where they’d be sharing or holding the same infected things and surfaces.

It’s also inevitable when a student would accidentally sneeze right after your kid. We can’t always shield our children from the possible sources of infection. But we can always do something about it. We can tell them to observe simple rules of cleanliness.

Like my kids, I let them bring a small container of alcohol or a hand sanitizer just in case there is no water in school to wash their hands before and after snack and lunch time. Aside from their hankies, I also put some tissue papers inside their bags.

But as much as possible I encourage them to wash their hands before and after they eat their lunch in school. Simple hand-washing can prevent potentially fatal infections from spreading from one infected person to another. Even when preparing food at home be sure that your hands are properly cleansed.

The proper steps to wash your hands:

  1. Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
  2. Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
  3. Continue rubbing hands for 15-20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing “Happy Birthday” twice through to a friend.
  4. Rinse hands well under running water. (Remember the birthday song?)
  5. Dry your hands using a paper towel or hand dryers. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.
  6. Always use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.