Bong Go urges government agencies to prioritize welfare of healthcare workers
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Committee on Health and Demography Chair Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go assured the medical community that their concerns were heard by the government after their press conference held in the morning of August 1.
On the same day of the public briefing conducted by medical associations, Go said that he was invited as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, to participate in a virtual meeting with key Cabinet officials led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, representatives from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), and the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 to discuss recommendations to be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte to address the concerns of the medical community.
“Sila po ang mga bayani sa laban na ito. Tulungan natin sila at huwag na pahirapan pa. Lahat po ng serbisyo na pwedeng ibigay sa ating health workers, ibigay na po natin agad sa lalong madaling panahon,” Go stressed.
He, however, reminded government officials to always deliver on their commitments. “Dapat kung may binitawang salita, maibigay at huwag tagalan ang serbisyo. Kung mangangako kayo, siguraduhin ninyo na mabibigay para hindi kayo malagay sa alanganin at madamay ang Pangulo.”
Go, for his part, said that he is studying the possibility of providing financial assistance and additional benefits such as life insurance coverage for private sector healthcare workers (HCWs) who are assigned to handle COVID-19 cases. He cited that while public sector HCWs are provided better compensation and benefits by the government, those in the private sector are more often not provided the same.
“Kakausapin ko po si Pangulong Duterte, ang ating finance managers at ibang mga mambabatas kung pwedeng maisali pa sa Bayanihan 2 bill ang probisyon na magbibigay dagdag benepisyo sa healthcare workers, sa pribado man o publikong sector. O baka pwedeng magawan ng paraan sa Executive branch nalang through a directive from the President,” Go said, explaining that this can be funded by recommending its inclusion in the Bayanihan to Recover as One Bill still pending Congress, or if possible, through a Presidential directive.
Go is also appealing to concerned agencies to provide accommodation and transportation assistance and to issue Work and Quarantine Passes to on-duty HCWs so they can conveniently report to work. He added that free and frequent COVID-19 testing must also be made available to them.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go vowed that he will continue to push for the enactment of measures that can further protect and promote the welfare of the whole medical community.
Among the bills he filed are Senate Bill 1226 or the proposed Department of Health (DOH) Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act, which aims to authorize DOH to increase bed capacity and service capability of its retained hospitals; SB 1451, also known as the Medical Reserve Corps Act of 2020 to augment the health workforce; and SB 395 or the Advanced Nursing Education Act of 2019 to enhance nursing programs.
In order to immediately ease the burden of the medical community, Go urged the government to hire additional HCWs to augment the current workforce. He also suggested tapping HCWs from areas with less COVID-19 cases to help those in pandemic epicenters.
Go appealed to the public to show support and empathy to all front liners saying that “they are sacrificing their own lives to save others. In our own way of showing our compassion and through our cooperation, we can save their lives as well.”
“Frontliners ang inaasahan natin ngayon dahil sila ang mas nakakaalam, kaya suportahan natin sila,” Go added.
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