COVID-19 pandemic shows urgent need for Medical Reserve Corps – Go
MANILA, Philippines — The COVID-19 pandemic, which has caught many countries off guard, should be a lesson for the Philippines to put in place policies and systems to make it better prepared for any similar medical crisis that may come in the future, Sen. Christopher Go said on Tuesday in his opening statement at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, which he chairs.
Organizing a group of doctors, nurses, medical technologists, and other health professionals trained for such a crisis would be a step in ensuring preparedness, Go said, which was why he filed Senate Bill No. 1451, which proposes to establish a Medical Reserve Corps.
“The members of the Medical Reserve Corps may be called upon and mobilized to assist the national government and the local government units in their functions related to addressing the medical needs of the public in times of national emergencies. Those who are deployed should be properly compensated,” Go said, according to a transcript sent by his office.
In calling attention to this measure, Go noted the hardships encountered by the current crop of health professionals who had been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our medical personnel are strained by the number of COVID-19 patients which hinders our capacity to combat the disease immediately and effectively. Thus, we urgently see the need for a Medical Reserve Corps,” he said.
“The entire nation owes you a debt of gratitude that cannot be repaid. It is, therefore, my hope that you will not tire in helping your fellow countrymen and in lending your expertise for the benefit of our country,” he said.
He noted that other measures establishing a Medical Reserved Corps had been filed by Senators Pia Cayetano and Imee Marcos.
Another measure that Go thinks would boost the country’s preparedness for medical emergencies is the establishment of an E-Health System and Services.
“As the pandemic continues to limit physical interaction and mobility and face-to-face transactions, the use of information and communications technology at this time has become apparent, and telemedicine became an alternative health delivery method,” he said.
Senators Sonny Angara and Bong Revilla, he noted, also filed similar bills.
“The bills aim to regulate the practice of telemedicine and e-health, and set the standards of practice in providing e-health services. This will recognize e-health as equal with other healthcare delivery methods, guarantee quality of service, and ensure patient safety and protection,” he said.
“In this hearing, we welcome the inputs of our agencies, stakeholders, and experts to improve these measures that will help us not only overcome this pandemic but also make us more prepared and responsive to any other health crisis,” he added.
‘Don’t rush to implement rules’
Go also took the opportunity to warn against rushing the implementation of health protocols — like the reduced physical distancing in public vehicles — without the proper study.
“I am appealing to concerned agencies to thoroughly study their proposal to reduce social distancing in public transportation,” he said. “As President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated last [Monday] night: Pag-aralan niyo muna ng mabuti bago niyo iimplementa ‘yan [Study it well before you implement it].”
“The government must continue to balance efforts in opening the economy while still implementing necessary health protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19. Every decision we make must be backed up by scientific studies and based on recommendations of subject matter experts,” he added.
Rushing to make an ill-advised decision that would risk a further spread of the virus, he said, would only waste the gains made with the help of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
In the case of reduced distancing in public vehicles, he said poor Filipinos would be the ones to suffer as they would have to risk their health just to get to work.
According to Go, Interior Secretary Año and Secretary Carlito Galvez, the chief implementor of the Inter-Agency Task Force, said they would discuss the issue again a meeting on Tuesday.
“I also appeal to the general public for their patience and to remain vigilant, cooperate with authorities, comply with health protocols, and continue to show compassion to each other,” Go said
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.