We Need More Than Science To Emerge From This Pandemic

We Need More Than Science To Emerge From This Pandemic

February 07, 2022

By Angela G. Sison-Aguilar MD MSc MBA, Faculty Editor-in-Chief, UPCM InSPIRE Magazine

The pandemic is far from over and we are nearing our third year of battle. Yet, unlike before, we are more confident, less fearful of the enemy.

We imagined we would emerge from it like survivors from a post-apocalyptic scenario, akin to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki residents who survived a nuclear holocaust. Counting heads, many of us are still here, albeit scarred from battle. The virus, which took a bite at the edges of humankind at our most vulnerable, had not finished us off. It however has transformed us immensely, far more than we are willing to admit.

Our college is still here, continuing our work, celebrating our triumphs, no mean feat in this era. Our last INSPIRE issue for 2021 is full not just of hope, but of determination. To say that the College is resilient is to under-assess what it has done not just to survive; it has flourished and spurred our community to do better:

  • Continuing our work, as … a community of scholars, recognizing heroes from among our ranks, our faculty and student achievers, in our virtual fetes….
  • Paying tribute to our forebears, ….inspired by love, compassion and respect, memorializing their contribution and honoring them…..by conferring the Dr. Evangeline Olivar Santos Research Award, one among many we bestow…
  • Placing faith in our future, heartened by the emergence of leaders from among our youth, whose voices we hear in this issue…
  • Adapting to the environment by using innovations in medical education, navigating this new world through technology and media, and fulfilling our mission to serve the underserved, embodying our heightened social consciousness, with actual service and commitment seen in the stories of UPCM students.

As we go about our daily work, we know that there is a nagging feeling, goaded by no less than our Dean’s untiring drive, that we still have a lot of work to do.

We just cannot approach another year of this pandemic using our old playbook. This is a world we had not imagined. How can we face the challenging times with a “business-as-usual” attitude?

Though we are buoyed by the new developments, rapid diagnostics, vaccines, and antivirals, all developed through collaborative efforts and distributed worldwide, we know we still are far from conquering this scourge. There are challenges in health access, debates in efficacy of proposed interventions, widespread misinformation and what have you— certainly these are not minor. Nevertheless, in our minds and hearts, we have an increasing certainty that these are NOT insurmountable.

We know that, in the coming issues of InSPIRE, we will be writing about actions that our community has undertaken to manage our transition from pandemic to a new health order. We know that we, the UPCM, will be working with the global community towards attaining health not just for the nearby catchment area of our university hospital but also for the barely accessible segments of the population, reaching out not only to the educated but enlightening likewise the misinformed, providing services favoring not only the privileged but preferentially assisting the less fortunate.

We know that pure science does not solve pandemics— public health is meaningless without political will, and that good intentions do not always result in positive outcomes.

We have to go beyond science to fulfill our mission. We have to lend our voice to policy. We have to contribute to the discourse. We have to channel our energies to support effective social movements.

It is not enough that we are commandeered to pick up the sick and dead on the battlefield. Why settle for that when we can actually influence how this war is fought? It is not enough to wait passively for resources, sometimes crumbs and leftovers, when we should be asserting how allocation should be directed. Our role is much bigger than we care to admit or even dare to assume.

We, the UPCM community, should not only wrack our brains to solve these issues. We should look into our empathetic hearts, delve into our courageous souls, and strengthen our resolve to join the collective struggle. Our aim is to help deliver humanity from the grip of this pandemic and from the old world order that keeps many in a state of poor health.