Set aside part of additional budget for health workers, mass testing – CHR
MANILA, Philippines — The additional funds that the government would tap to fight the COVID-19 outbreak should be allocated to support health workers and mass testing, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Monday.
CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement that health workers should be protected by the state as they are exposed to greater risks by attending to persons found positive for COVID-19, a highly infectious respiratory illness caused the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2.
“With the government’s mobilization of additional funds to help fight COVID-19, we demand greater spending in ensuring the protection of our healthcare workers and equipping our health facilities to accommodate the inundated number of infected patients,” De Guia said.
“As the global pandemic accelerates, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers has been a major concern. Our medical staff are waiting for such equipment while already attending to patients who may be infected. The government should ensure the speedy and enough provision of these requirements,” she explained.
Congress has been deliberating on measures that would give President Rodrigo Duterte extra powers that include, among others, realigning, reprogramming, and reallocating appropriations in the 2020 national budget, to address COVID-19.
“We recognize the mitigation strategies of the government of implementing community quarantine and physical distancing to help curb the spread of the virus. But we also need containment strategies which can be facilitated by mass testing,” De Guia further pointed out.
“A rising number of doctors and other health workers are being placed under quarantine after exposure to COVID-19-positive patients and those manifesting symptoms of the infection. The depleting workforce adds a heavier toll on managing the healthcare needs of everyone, not just those who have coronavirus-related illnesses,” she also noted.
Luzon is now under an enhanced community quarantine, but the number of people getting infected continues to increase. Under the strict isolation policy of the region, only people in the frontline – those involved in ensuring food supply and food production as well as those in the medical field like health workers could be allowed to go out and work.
Recent COVID-19 casualties recorded included some doctors, like Philippine Heart Center’s Dr. Israel Bactol, who had attended to patients affected with the disease.
“We already lost three doctors in this battle—Drs. Israel Bactol; Greg Macasaet III; and Rose Pulido. We deeply mourn for the selfless dedication of these unsung heroes who died in line of duty. We also pray for the health of our medical workers in quarantine and the quick recovery of those confirmed to be infected,” De Guia said.
To date, the Philippines has 462 people infected with COVID-19, including 33 deaths and 18 recoveries.
The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19 a pandemic since it has already infected more than 341,330 people worldwide and killed more than 14,745. On the other hand, over 99,000 people have recovered so far from the disease.
“[…] we appeal to the government to provide COVID-19 testing kits to those who need them most urgently such as high-risk patients and healthcare workers in accordance [with] the algorithm that the DOH (Department of Health) released for the triage of patients with possible COVID-19 infection,” De Guia said.
“Alongside concerns for personal safety, our healthcare workers are also worried about passing the infection to their families. They too suffer from undue stress and pressure affecting their mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. Medical facilities should also strive to give support services to our healthcare staff to cope up with the unprecedented demand,” she added.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in China’s city of Wuhan in Hubei province in late 2019.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2.
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, which surfaces have a crown-like appearance. The viruses are named for the spikes on their surfaces.
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