WHO: Leaders, influencers should show the way

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    IN this phase of humanity’s daunting fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it is timely for the World Health Organization (WHO) to remind the globe’s “leaders and influencers” to serve as role models in following the various health protocols in this time of the pandemic.

    According to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, key health authorities expect leaders across the globe to be “models” in observing the non-pharmaceutical interventions such as wearing of face mask, observing hand hygiene, and physical distancing of one meter. By “leaders,” Ghebreyesus specifically referred to political, religious and traditional heads of governments, institutions and organizations.

    The call was echoed by Executive Director Mike Ryan of the WHO Health Emergencies Program. Ryan pointed out that one of the difficulties encountered by various nations is the “dissonance within or between governments regarding what advice is.”

    Make no mistake about Ryan’s straight-forward admonition: “Populations need very clear, credible, regular communication regarding what to do. No matter what it says on the posters and no matter what it says in the guidance, if that behavior is not being modeled by leaders and influencers, populations get confused and the issue becomes politicized.”

    ‘The DILG is conducting a probe on separate events attended by Roque and Pacquiao in Cebu and Batangas… But we do not expect anything serious or solid to come out of this probe, considering the big names involved.’

    The truth in Ryan’s observations can be gleaned in the current issues of face mask and physical distancing violations allegedly committed by presidential spokesman Harry Roque in Bantayan Island, Cebu and Sen. Manny Pacquiao in Batangas.

    Both Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya diplomatically referred to these incidents, careful not to prick so many egos, while upholding the official DOH line.

    Malaya said, “Government officials must take the lead, lead by example. If the government official is invited to an event but he or she cannot ensure that minimum health standards will be implemented during the event, it will be best if this government official will just decline to attend.”

    The DILG is conducting a probe on separate events attended by Roque and Pacquiao in Cebu and Batangas, respectively, to determine if social distancing was indeed not observed. But we do not expect anything serious or solid to come out of this probe, considering the big names involved. Big names like Duterte, Uson, Sinas and Pimentel also were involved in similar violations and nothing was heard about them after some time.

    “If government officials fail to comply, how can we expect the public to comply? That is why it is very important for us to lead by example,” intoned Malaya, but alas, his words will just be blown by the wind.