PMA surgeon backs hospital arrest for Arroyo
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Medical Association may not agree that Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo needs medical treatment abroad, but it advises that she be detained in the hospital rather than in jail.
PMA Manila governor and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Leo Olarte expressed his approval of Arroyo’s hospital arrest at the sidelines of the Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel media forum on Monday, saying: “The hospital is the appropriate place for a sick person, whether he is an ordinary or [prominent] citizen.”
Olarte earlier criticized the Arroyo camp’s claim that she should get her bone biopsy abroad. He insisted that local doctors were well qualified to take on the job.
At this point, however, even Olarte admits that Arroyo’s present condition calls for her continued stay at the hospital despite some quarters calling for her to be put behind bars.
“She has an intestinal infection that can lead to dehydration. Her fluids and electrolytes need to be examined and balanced, and that would need special hospital equipment and a laboratory that won’t be present in a detention cell. She also has anorexia nervosa and that would need a special food supplement,” Olarte told the Inquirer.
But Olarte maintained Arroyo’s medical condition was not “life-threatening” enough to warrant immediate treatment abroad, and even if it were, all the more she “would not be fit to travel.”
“It is stressful to go on long flights. If it is an emergency, she should get treatment here. Hypoparathyroidism can easily be fixed by doctors,” he said.
He advised that instead of focusing on the bone biopsy, Arroyo’s doctors should focus on treating her intestinal infection and anorexia nervosa first.
“I hope she will recover from the infection in five to seven days, but as for the anorexia, perhaps caused by a lack of appetite, it depends on the depression and the stress she’s suffering,” Olarte said.
Also reacting to statements made by Arroyo’s spokesperson Ma. Elena Bautista-Horn that they never received a recommendation from Olarte, he said the PMA had long provided a “hundred-item” list of local specialists who can treat Arroyo, all of whom, he said, are members of the Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism (PSEM).
“They have a right to choose. It won’t be ethical for me to choose for them, but we have given them a group of specialists to choose from. Anyone can Google them or look them up at the PSEM website,” he said.
He said the Supreme Court and the Palace could consult the PMA on whether Arroyo needed to travel abroad for treatment, as “the PMA is authoritative enough to say whether there are medical specialists in the Philippines to treat a particular disease.”
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