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By Prince Golez

Malacañang denied on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte resorted to “medical populism” to combat the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.

Medical journal The Lancet ranked the Philippines 66th out of 91 countries in suppressing the spread of Covid-19, partly attributing it to Duterte’s style of political leadership.

The study published on September 14 described medical populists as “simplifying the pandemic by downplaying its impacts or touting easy solutions or treatments, spectacularizing their responses to crisis, forging divisions between the ‘people’ and dangerous ‘others’, and making medical knowledge claims to support the above.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, argued that Duterte and the government’s Covid-19 task force met the challenges created by the Covid-19 impacts “head-on,” adding that strategies against the viral illness are based on science and hard data.

“The Duterte Administration has put in place concrete interventions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, which includes ramping up the country’s testing capacity, enhancing contact tracing efforts, and scaling up of local health system capacity, especially for community isolation and critical care,” he added.

The national government, according to Roque, also adopted a “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society approach” to managing the outbreak that has infected more than 294,000 as of September 23.

“Every sector from public health to economics has been consulted to ensure that the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is addressed in our National Action Plan,” he said.

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