OVP hoping to get gov’t backing for its E-Konsulta initiative
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Vice President has admitted that its E-Konsulta initiative — which offers a free consultation to anyone who is possibly a COVID-19 patient — would be improved significantly if the national government adopted it.
According to Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez, the Department of Health (DOH) has resources available at its disposal that could be used to support the country’s COVID-19 response.
On Wednesday morning, Gutierrez was asked during a virtual interview with DABIGC’s Radio Nationwide whether DOH might use the program to manage hospital occupancy, especially in Metro Manila and nearby provinces experiencing a COVID-19 surge.
“Well, kung gagawin ng Department of Health ito on a large scale, ‘di hamak na mas maganda dahil definitely mas marami silang resources at tao na puwedeng ma-devote dito,” he said.
(Definitely, the Department of Health has the resources and people to do this on a large scale.)
The OVP spokesperson further explained that the Bayanihan E-Konsulta used little to no resources, as doctors and call and chat operators volunteered their time when Robredo called for volunteers.
Gutierrez pointed out that such a system would be funded and provided with government support.
“Pero uulitin ko lang iyong sinabi ko sa simula—lahat ito volunteer. Ibig sabihin wala talaga kaming resources na inallocate dito, pero ang laki ng pasasalamat namin, noong nanawagan si VP Leni sa mga volunteers, mahigit 600 na mga doktor ang nag-volunteer dito para mag-devote ng kanilang oras at ng kanilang expertise para magbigay ng konsultasyon,” Gutierrez explained.
(Let me reiterate what I mentioned at the outset — it’s entirely voluntary. This means that we do not have the money allocated here, but we are extremely grateful that when Vice President Leni called for volunteers, over 600 doctors volunteered to devote their time and expertise to providing consultation.)
Gutierrez underscored that the volunteers were driving the program. If it’s funded properly, government resources will pour into it, and it’ll be successful in reaching more individuals.
On Wednesday, news reports indicated that OVP has now faced a backlog after receiving over 10,000 transactions in only six days, compared to the volunteer manpower pool of around 1,000 volunteers. This underscores the need for a virtual consultation mode to ease the influx of patients at hospitals.
Under the program, patients could contact doctors by telling OVP on Facebook that they have symptoms from COVID-19. Typing “Tulong” or help, or “konsulta” or consultation would lead to a questionnaire, giving doctors information about their condition.
The program’s idea is to prevent people from immediately rushing to the hospital — minimizing exposure for patients who aren’t positive for COVID-19 but are experiencing symptoms similar to the disease, and preventing a situation where hospitals are overstretched.
Counting the newly reported infections, the country has 173,047 active COVID-19 cases, and hospital occupancy in the National Capital Region remains at 88 percent of bed capacity.
Furthermore, 65 percent of isolation beds in the NCR and 65 percent of beds in COVID-19 wards are filled.
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