‘They are waiting for the patient to die’

In the late stages of rabies, as patients become uncontrollable, they have to be moved to isolated facilities.

When rabies reaches the stage when it can no longer be cured, patients become uncontrollable to the extent that in the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, Philippines they have to be isolated.

Dr Ferdinand De Guzman, a spokesperson for the hospital, showed the Lifelines film crew around the rabies ward where patients spend their last days.

“As soon as a patient is admitted, here he is not going to come out alive,” he said.

Dr De Guzman shared his experiences and some of the heartbreaking stories of young patients.

“In Filipino culture, if you have a rabies patient then the whole household comes with them ….They are waiting for the patient to die,” he explains.

“I particularly remember two patients who died in this room. One of them was a 16-year-old student, he was so excited to study in Manila.”

“Another patient which I remembered here was 20 years old. She was pregnant at that time ….When she died of course the baby died with her, because at that time no hospital would accept her and we didn’t have an OB/GYN here. There is the stigma of the diseases again.” 

Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health will air on Al Jazeera in 2014.