DILG seeks P5B for contact tracers
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday asked Congress to allocate P5 billion out of the P162 billion under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, or Bayanihan 2, for the hiring and training of contact tracers.
In a statement, the DILG said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año sent a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri requesting for P5 billion to bankroll the hiring and training of 50,000 contact tracers starting this September.
Año said the proposal to hire 50,000 contact tracers was designed to meet the recommended ratio of the World Health Organization of one contact tracer for every 800 people.
“With a projected population of 108 million this year, we need 50,000 more contact tracers to attain the ideal number of 135,000 contact tracers to pursue quick and credible tracing of close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients,” Año said.
Race vs time
“We are racing against time. Every single second counts and the longer we fail to expand our contact tracing capacity, the higher the probability that the virus spreads to more communities. We, therefore, need more contact tracers urgently to break the chain of transmission of this virus,” he added.
Año said the current number of contact tracers could not meet the recommendations of Baguio City Mayor and contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong of a 1:37 patient to close contacts ratio.
In a phone interview with the Inquirer, Interior Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr., who is in charge of the DILG’s contact tracing efforts, said the government currently has 91,000 contact tracers nationwide.
Florece said these contact tracers were government employees who were part of the contact tracing teams of local government units headed by their respective local epidemiology and surveillance officer.
“We didn’t hire them because they are already employees, meaning organic, they are already with the government,” he said.
Under the DILG’s proposal, a contact tracer must be a graduate of a bachelor’s degree on allied medical courses or criminology like nurses, midwives and medical technologists.
Florece said the DILG proposed that a contact tracer would have a monthly salary of P20,219, which is equivalent to Salary Grade 10.
“Our proposal is Salary Grade 10 at least for this year, four months starting this September,” he said, adding that the DILG also proposed a 5-percent premium pay to contact tracers on top of their monthly salary.
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