Robredo to admin: Waiting for vaccine won’t solve pandemic, related problems
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has reminded the administration that merely waiting for a vaccine to be developed would neither put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic nor solve problems related to it.
In her report to the nation about the health crisis on Wednesday, Robredo noted that the government should use a data-driven approach instead, where authorities can identify which areas have a significantly higher infection rate that necessitates attention and, eventually, mass testing.
If the government would adopt her suggestions, she believes that the reopening of the economy would be quicker, smoother, and safer.
“Hindi mapipigil ang pandemya kung basta mag-aabang na lang tayo ng bakuna […] Nagsisimula ang lahat sa tamang datos, na pundasyon ng tamang desisyon. Mula dito, matutukoy ang kung sino at aling mga lugar ang dapat tutukan pagdating sa mass testing, contact tracing, at suporta sa mga komunidad at ospital,” Robredo said in her message posted on her Facebook page.
(We cannot stop the pandemic if we just wait for the vaccine… Everything starts with a correct data, which will be the foundation of a right decision. From here, we can pinpoint who and what areas need attention and mass testing, contact tracing, and support to the community and hospital.)
“Kung magiging tama ang tugon sa aspekto ng healthcare, mako-control ang community transmission, magiging mas mabilis, ligtas, at strategic ang pagbubukas ng ekonomiya, maiiwasan ang pagkawala ng trabaho, at hindi na dadami pa ang dadanas ng kahirapan,” she added.
(If the response would be right in the aspect of healthcare, community transmission can be controlled, the opening of the economy will be fast, safe and strategic, joblessness will be avoided and those who will experience poverty will be lessened.)
Robredo laid out eight specific suggestions for the government, which she said was based on their experience in helping fight the pandemic — at the top of which is to make data gathering and verification faster, while consolidating all information to a single, centralized ecosystem of data.
“Una, linisin at pabilisin ang pagkalap ng datos ukol sa COVID-19. Kung magagawa ito, magiging mas matibay ang pinagmumulan ng mga desisyon, polisiya, at programa para mapigilan ang paglaganap ng virus,” the Vice President said.
(First, polish and expedite the gathering of data regarding COVID-19. If this is done, the base of the decision-making, policy and programs will be solid to stop the spread of the virus.)
“Kung mali at buhol-buhol ang pag-input ng data, babagal ang validation; babagal din ang proseso ng decision-making. Halimbawa: Sa data na nakakalap, may discrepancy sa mga nagpositive at confirmed cases. May mahigit 113,000 cases ang nagpositive sa testing, ngunit nasa 80,000 pa lang nito ang confirmed cases,” she noted.
(If the input of data is wrong and intertwined, validation will take time; the processing for the decision-making will be slower. For example: In the data gathered, there is discrepancy with those who are positive and confirmed cases. There are about 113,000 cases of those who tested positive but only 80,000 are confirmed cases.)
Aside from these, she also moved to include the academe in verifying COVID-19 cases so it would be quicker while ensuring a shorter turnover time of coronavirus test results, which would enable contact tracers to have more time tracking down possible close contacts of patients.
Robredo also asked government officials to consider handing the issue of locally-stranded individuals to a more organized agency, to protect them from possible exposure to the coronavirus unlike what was observed recently; and to assist health workers by giving them counseling, higher salaries, to avoid burnouts.
“Natural dapat na pagtuonan ng ibayong pansin ang lahat ng pag-aaruga, lahat ng tulong, lahat ng kasangkapan at serbisyong magagamit nila. Kabilang na dito ang access sa counseling para sa mga healthcare workers sa mga COVID ward,” Robredo said.
(It is just natural to focus on caring and helping them, all of things that hey need. Including access to counseling for healthcare workers in the COVID ward.)
“Magpatupad din dapat ng sistema para hindi sila maburn-out, tulad ng maayos na proseso ng pagrelyebo. Sang-ayon din tayo na dapat maging mas makatarungan ang pasahod sa kanila lalo na sa panahong ganito,” she explained.
(A system should also be implemented for them not to burnout, like the efficient relieving in their shift. I also agree in giving them right compensation especially in times like these.)
President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration have been on the receiving end of criticisms for not providing a concrete roadmap for the COVID-19 response during his State of the Nation Address last Monday, merely mentioning that he has asked China for a vaccine.
Several sectors and personalities like Bagong Alyansang Makabayan have observed that the government’s plan is centered on awaiting a vaccine — thought shared by former senator and Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero who noted that the Department of Health seems intent on waiting out until a vaccine arrives.
As of Wednesday, the country’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases has already breached the 85,000 mark, surpassing predictions made by the University of the Philippines regarding cases at the end of July.
DOH said that there are now 85,486 cases in the country, of which 1,962 have died while 26,996 have recovered.
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