Doctors Without Borders: COVID-19 crisis to affect people ‘already neglected’ the most
MANILA, Philippines — The current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis will have an impact on people who are “already neglected,” an official of the Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) said.
“The people who will especially suffer will be those already neglected — due to austerity measures, who have fled because of war, who don’t have access to treatment for existing conditions because of privatized healthcare,” Doctors Without Borders – Operational Center in Brussels Analysis Department director Jonathan Whittall wrote in an opinion piece.
“And it will also be those who can’t stock up on food because they already can’t afford a meal every night of the week, who are underpaid, overworked and deprived of sick leave, unable to work from home – and those trapped in conflict zones under bombing and siege,” he added.
According to data from the World Health Organization as of March 25, there have been more than 400,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with more than 18,500 fatalities.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has 707 confirmed cases of the viral disease, of which 45 people have died while 28 recovered.
To contain the spread of COVID-19, the entire Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Under the period of enhanced community quarantine, “strict home quarantine shall be implemented in all households; transportation shall be suspended; provision for food and essential services shall be regulated; and heightened presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be implemented.”
Apart from the “exclusion” of certain groups of people because of their legal status or other factors, Whittal also noted that the current crisis will expose “inequalities” in health care systems.
“It will expose the under-investment in free public healthcare for all, which means that access to quality care will for some be based on purchasing power and not medical need,” Whittal expressed.
“It will expose the failure of governments – not just health services – to plan for and deliver services that meet the needs of everyone. It will expose the life-threatening vulnerabilities caused by displacement, violence, poverty and war,” he added.
“COVID-19 is demonstrating how policy decisions of social exclusion, reduced access to free healthcare, and increased inequality will now be felt by all of us. These policies are the enemy of our collective health,” the Doctors Without Borders pointed out.
He then made this promise: “As [Doctors Without Borders] scales up its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will focus on the most vulnerable and neglected.”
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