Sotto questions DOH’s P11.7-B spending plan for hiring contact tracers
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) would have to “justify” the cost of hiring 136,000 contact tracers amounting to P11.7 billion should it seek additional funding, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.
“DOH (Department of Health) wants to spend 10B to hire contact tracers. Mayor (Benjamin) Magalong’s excellent Baguio contact tracing did not need an amount!” Sotto said in a tweet on Tuesday.
DOH wants to spend 10B to hire contact tracers. Mayor Magalong's excellent Baguio contact tracing did not need an amount!
— Tito Sotto (@sotto_tito) May 26, 2020FEATURED STORIESNEWSINFO
“Correction: 11.7 Billion pesos Pala! (tutting)!” he said in a later tweet.
Correction: 11.7 Billion pesos Pala! (tutting)! https://t.co/Ww3x0lvBoy
— Tito Sotto (@sotto_tito) May 26, 2020
Following his Twitter posts, Sotto was then asked whether he was not keen to grant the said budget.
“We must ask them to justify,” he told reporters in a message.
Tap barangay health workers, leaders
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, urged the DOH to mobilize civil society organizations and tap around 400 thousand barangay health workers and parent-leaders from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to carry out the contact tracing.
Drilon issued the statement as he expressed alarm over the government’s “slow” contact tracing efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
“To help expedite contact tracing, I propose that we assemble and activate existing government-organized and accredited groups. We can easily tap the over 200,000 Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), 200,000 parent-leaders from the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program and members of DSWD-accredited Civil Society Organizations,” the senator said in a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
“Time is of the essence and we must act expeditiously – tapping the above workers and leaders can save us precious time and help us combat COVID-19 efficiently,” he added, saying that “they can be quickly mobilized as contact tracers” since they are already organized.
World Health Organization (WHO) acting representative Dr. Socorro Escalante earlier raised alarm over the country’s slow contact tracing efforts.
Drilon agreed with the WHO saying that there is “a very short window of opportunity to improve the country’s contact-tracing system.”
This, as he emphasized that contact tracing should be expedited before the government eases the lockdowns, especially in Metro Manila.
The DOH should also provide transportation allowance and protective gear such as face shield and mask to the contact tracers, the senator proposed.
Drilon further underscored the importance of tracking in containing the virus.
“Our objective to prevent the virus from spreading is based on our ability to efficiently identify the infected and notify those he or she has made contact with. Hence, contact tracing is a must and should never be neglected,” he added.
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