Health expert hits gov’t for lack of testing centers amid high COVID positivity rate
MANILA, Philippines — A health expert has expressed concern over the inadequate number of testing centers in the country as COVID-19 cases continue to increase.
In a recent forum, Dr. Leni Jara of the Council for Health and Development lamented that “COVID testing is not accessible for everybody” amind lacking testing centers nationwide.
According to the group’s executive director, “COVID testing is not accessible for everybody because most of them are in urban centers – 116 in Metro Manila, 18 in Cebu, and 10 other provinces that have it.”
“There are 31 provinces that don’t have testing centers,” she added.
This is troubling, Jara further said, considering that the country’s positivity rate even reached 29 percent despite under-testing.
“And yet we are already in the seventh position as far as the number of cases of COVID is concerned,” the physician pointed out.
She then called out the reported P500 million worth of testing kits that expired and were not used – while the demand for free mass testing has never been granted.
“It’s revolting for me,” Jara said.
Moreover, the Council for Health and Development official stressed that inadequate contact tracing has also caused the persistent community transmission of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. She added that as the government sees vaccines as the solution to the health crisis, its goal to reach herd immunity within the year or by the first quarter of 2022 may not even be achieved “at the rate we are rolling out vaccines.”
During the same virtual forum, Universal Healthcare Watch (UHC) co-convener Alvin Manalansan said issues of alleged corruption and negligence in the government’s procurement of pandemic supplies have now “damaged the image of the Department of Health (DOH) and affected our fight against COVID 19.”
This controversy, he argued, should inspire opportunity for different stakeholders to have a strategic health agenda policy recommendations and sustainable solutions, as the 2022 election season is set to kick off.
“We need a holistic, transparent, and people-centered approach to healthcare, one that duly considers the rights and needs of different health constituents and stakeholders,” he said.
For Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute president Dindo Manhit, amid a persistent surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant and as the government is poised to impose another quarantine scheme, it remains important to provide the country’s healthcare system with enough resources in order to constantly respond with the public’s needs.
He emphasized the significance of the government prioritizing the implementation of the Universal Healthcare law, as well as other health laws, and allocate sufficient resources so the country’s healthcare system could operate “based on sound data and evidence-based information.”
Manhit likewise said people should now demand “complete visibility and reckoning of performance.”
“Disruptions brought by the pandemic is a tried excuse that we should no longer tolerate. We need responsive performance and good governance,” he said.
“Filipinos do not need political rhetoric. We will not be swayed by words anymore,” he added.
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