Cebu medical groups: ‘Tuob’ can’t kill virus
CEBU CITY—Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia got a dose of her own medicine on social media after netizens criticized her for publicly shaming two doctors who questioned her endorsement of “tuob,” or steam inhalation as a cure for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Netizens took to Twitter and Facebook taking to task the governor for disrespecting the medical profession. The tags #NoToDoctorShaming and “Gwen Garcia” were trending topics on Twitter on June 24.
At least 13 Cebu-based medical organizations also issued a joint statement on Thursday, saying tuob does not kill the virus and may cause potential harm.
At a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Garcia flashed screenshots of the Facebook posts and profiles of the two doctors as she berated them for criticizing a memorandum she issued that “enjoined” capitol employees and department heads to perform tuob twice a day at their work stations.
The governor on Tuesday belittled one of the doctors, who claimed that tuob might be harmful because of possible “aerosolization” of the virus, as just a “general practitioner of two years.”
“Based on what I know, you are a doctor. And so why are you meddling with the administration here? You are just a general practitioner with two years of experience, yet you were so confident in berating us and insulting those who practice steam inhalation,” the governor said in Cebuano.
Garcia also took to task the second doctor who, in a Facebook post, threatened “to slap” the governor for promoting tuob while doctors like her are risking their lives to attend to virus positive patients. Garcia said the physician’s statement was “unethical” and challenged the latter to come forward and slap her.
“This statement ‘It’s better to set you on fire so you’ll be directly cremated,’ you will account for this. I will file a complaint against you before the proper authorities,” the governor added.
Netizens immediately went on Twitter to show their disappointment over how Garcia berated the two physicians.
“They (doctors) are experts in those fields that’s why they know what they’re talking about. Please don’t invalidate the struggles and hard work of doctors just because you can’t accept that some people know better,” a netizen tweeted.
Another said: “Doctors didn’t study medicine for more than 10 years just to be treated this way. The audacity of Gov. Gwen Garcia to shame a doctor just because that doctor expressed an opinion that tuob isn’t scientifically proven to cure COVID-19.”
Tuob is a traditional healing method of inhaling steam from a basin filled with boiled water infused with lemon, ginger or eucalyptus for 10 to 15 minutes.
Medical professionals in Cebu, however, said that while the practice of tuob has been cited in scientific journals to provide relief for respiratory symptoms such as nasal congestion and dry cough, “up-to-date” medical evidence showed that steam inhalation has not been demonstrated to kill viruses, specifically the SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.
“Because steam inhalation does not kill the virus and may cause potential harm, we cannot, in good conscience, endorse its use as a preventive or curative measure. The practice may even be precarious, if done by infected individuals, as it may facilitate spread if done communally,” said a joint statement by 13 Cebu-based medical organizations.
“We appeal to members of the public doing tuob that if symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical consultation immediately. We continually urge the public to observe practices that have been proven effective in mitigating virus spread including wearing of masks, hand-washing, and physical distancing,” the groups added.
Garcia, on Friday, said the statement of medical groups should not be viewed as a total opposition to tuob, noting that the practice has been cited in scientific journals to provide relief for respiratory problems.
She said she found the doctors’ statement as a “very rational, sober and very careful statement.” But she also believed that a study must continue to “arrive at the truth” on whether or not steam inhalation could cure COVID-19.
“The virus is new. Little is known about it. So let us continue to study and open our mind to possibilities. That is the essence of arriving at the truth. If Magellan believed that the world is flat, he should not have arrived in the Philippines,” she said.
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