DOH: PH now has ‘about 54,000’ hired contact tracers
MANILA, Philippines — There are now “about 54,000” hired contact tracers in the country’s fight against the coronavirus disease 2019, although funding remains an issue on why the government could not hire more, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.
“Bakit hindi pa tayo makapag-hire ng mas marami, I think the issue would be the funding. Kasi nung kinompute namin ‘yan malaking pera ang kailangan mo para ma-hire for at least three months ang contact tracers,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained during the online press conference.
(On why we can’t hire more contact tracers, I think the issue would be the funding. When we computed the needed funds, we found that we’ll need a huge amount of money to hire them for at least three months.)
But while the current workforce of contact tracers is far below the target number, Vergeire noted that personnel from other government agencies and civil society organizations also helping in tracing direct contacts of COVID-19 patients are not yet included in the figure.
“Nilagyan natin ng standard na dapat sa 800 persons in a community, dapat meron kang isang contact tracer. Kapag kinompute mo ‘yan, aabot ka ng mga 150,000 plus ata, 30 plus thousand,” she said.
(We established a standard that there should be a contact tracer in every 800 persons in a community. If you compute that, you will reach around 150,000 or 130,000.)
“Kapag mi-ninus mo ngayon ‘yung current na meron tayo sa numero na ‘yan malaki pa talaga ang diperensya,” Vergeire also admitted.
(If you subtract that with the current number, you will see that the difference is still really big.)
Vergeire also said that DOH has recommended to local government units to tap graduates of four-year courses as contact tracers but noted that this requirement might not be fully observed.
She explained that DOH has issued recommended qualifications for contact tracers since they should also be knowledgeable to educate the patients’ direct contacts about the disease and may also form part of the COVID-19 monitoring team in the localities.
Vergeire earlier said DOH would need at least P11.7 billion to hire additional contact tracers to track down close contacts of COVID-19 patients.
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