Pampanga, Cebu give free medicines to COVID-19 patients, hospitals
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines — The government of Pampanga has begun distributing packets of medicines and vitamins intended for people who tested positive for COVID-19 and waiting to be admitted to health facilities, officials said.
Angelina Blanco, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, said the “emergency aid” had been given out to villages starting on Aug. 21 as the province continued to run out of hospital beds.
The medicine packets consist of cefuroxime (antibiotic), prednisone (anti-inflammatory), azithromycin (antibiotic), melatonin (sleep hormone), paracetamol (pain reliever), and vitamins D3 and C with zinc.
As of Monday, the province’s COVID-19 bed capacity has already reached 85 percent among its 47 health facilities, which is considered as “high risk,” according to the data from the Department of Health (DOH). Only 211 of the 1,419 beds dedicated to its COVID-19 patients remained vacant.
Dr. Fleur de Lis Zapanta, chief of Diosdado P. Macapagal Memorial Provincial Hospital (DPMMPH), said each of the emergency medicine packets could last for seven days. DPMMPH is among the COVID-19 facilities in Pampanga.
According to Zapanta, Gov. Dennis Pineda came up with this form of emergency aid “to save lives,” and was prescribed by a pulmonologist.
Zapanta said the packets were dispensed by a barangay health worker after the COVID-19-positive person had submitted the result of an antigen or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test to the barangay captain and has undergone an assessment by a health professional.
In Cebu, the provincial government has also started distributing “emergency medicines” in 16 province-owned hospitals swamped with patients suspected to have been infected with COVID-19.
As of Monday, Cebu province has 6,044 active COVID-19 cases, the highest in Central Visayas, the DOH said.
Data from the Cebu Provincial Health Office showed that among those sent to the four provincial hospitals and 12 district hospitals across Cebu were remdesevir (antiviral medication), dexamethasone (steroid sometimes used for asthma, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis), tocilizumab (for rheumatoid arthritis) and azithromycin. While there is still no known medicine that can cure COVID-19, these drugs are often used in the management of persons infected with the virus, the capitol said.
The capitol also distributed eight ventilators for the four provincial hospitals while at least 40 high-flow nasal cannula machines were also sent to the different district hospitals. All of the 16 province-owned facilities likewise received 380 oxygen tanks and 78 boxes of rapid antigen test kits.
—REPORTS FROM TONETTE OREJAS AND DALE G. ISRAEL
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