Virus rears ugly side
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go also raised the urgency to equip and capacitate hospitals and designate more testing centers outside of Luzon to give the other regions capability to detect COVID-19 cases
Discrimination and harassment make a bad mix for the social stigma now being felt by some COVID-19 victims.
They try to stave these off while isolated in their homes. There is no hospital that could take them in for
Other than Gatchalian, physicians confirmed to have died of the virus were Dr. Hector Alvarez of Novaliches District Hospital; Dr. Raquel Seva, obstetriciangynecologist at the Evangelista Specialty Hospital in San Pedro Laguna; Philippine Heart Center cardiologists Dr. Israel Bactol and Dr. Raul Jara; Dr. Rose Pulido, oncologist at the San Juan de Dios Hospital; Dr. Gregorio Macasaet III, an anesthesiologist at the Manila Doctors Hospital; Dr. Henry Fernandez of the Pangasinan Medical Society; and Dr. Marcelo Jauchico, Pampanga Provincial Health Officer.
Still unconfirmed are reports that another doctor from Mindanao had succumbed to the virus. He could be the 10th COVID-19 victim among doctors, pending the official list that is yet to be released by the DoH.
Further deaths among the health workers in the frontlines, however, could be avoided if they have enough protection, through PPE and masks, which could support them in their diagnosis of patients.
A former official of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) also shared: “We are hoping there would no longer be further deaths among us. But there could be more because we are short in PPE in every hospital. We are exposed to the virus, too,” he said.
Aside from PPE, the source said health workers also need N95 masks, goggles, face masks, surgical masks and hazmat suits. Supply of these medical needs are scarce, although donors have been notifying the DoH about their intention to send them as soon as possible.
“It is not just the doctors and nurses, but the nurse aids, the hospital workers, the second liners and backliners — they are all exposed to the virus,” he added.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go also raised the urgency to equip and capacitate hospitals and designate more testing centers outside of Luzon to give the other regions capability to detect COVID-19 cases.
“Visayas and Mindanao need them, too,” Go said. “We are calling on the DoH to move fast. It has funds to do it. Testing centers are also needed in the Visayas and Mindanao.”
Dr. Anton Lim, Board member of the Tzu Chi Foundation, disclosed that the Taiwan-based organization had sent PPE to the Philippines as part of its many donations.
These materials, he said, were purchased from China and are now with the Bureau of Customs (BoC), which has yet to release them despite the emergency call issued by President Rodrigo Duterte amid the pandemic.
Lim said he hopes the donations will no longer be assessed with taxes by the BoC.
“These donated PPE should be released with urgency,” Lim said. “The frontline health workers need the PPE. The hazmat suits, they should not be brought out of the facilities.”
“It cannot be sewn again, or repaired. The suits should be disposed of after use. It could be contaminated,” he added.
It is not just the doctors and nurses who need these materials, though, the Philippine Genome Center of the University of the Philippines has also aired its call for PPE donations.
The Center is in charge of sequencing COVID-19 samples for the next two weeks as the country races to beat the contagion that has so far claimed 45 lives, with a total of 707 positively infected, 657 as under investigation and 6,321, more placed under monitoring.
The DoH has conducted tests on only 1,961, including top government officials and VIP in their homes.
The Center also seeks disposable impermeable laboratory gowns and caps, N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields, shoe covers and plastic throat swab kits.
Still unconfirmed are reports that another doctor from Mindanao had succumbed to the virus. He could be the 10th COVID-19 victim among doctors, pending the official list that is yet to be released by the DoH
The medical industry and stakeholders are not the only ones in need of PPE, though.
Jojo Flores, president of the National Federation of Mortuary Stakeholders, also aired their lack of support for their safety as they handle hundreds of dead bodies, their workers clueless about the cause of their deaths.
“We also need protection. We need PPE because we should be protected from the virus, too,” he said.
The Philippines is not wanting in PPE, though.
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and his Alibaba Foundation last week donated half-amillion face masks, aside from a pledge to give the country 50,000 tests kits.
These are part of the two million masks, 150,000 test kits, 20,000 sets of protective gear and 20,000 face shields Ma and Alibaba have distributed to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Other countries and private companies have also extended help to the Philippines in its fight against the pandemic.
Test kits from South Korea were donated by Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp. San Miguel Corp and the LT Group also provided face masks and alcohol to the frontliners.
The government of China, which was initially badly affected by COVID-19, had sent 100,000 test kits and other medical supplies which arrived in Manila on 21 March.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian handed over the test kits, along with 10,000 PPE, 100,000 surgical masks and 10,000 N95 masks to the Philippine government.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin received these from a China-chartered cargo flight on that day.
Stakeholders, however, claimed the DoH is causing delays in the release of these donations. The BoC and the Food and Drugs Administration are not helping either, sources said, as they allegedly cause bureaucratic delays in processing the donated items.
Duque also demands a letter from foreign and local donors, a checklist of their donations, their dates of delivery, identification of warehouses, their deeds of donation, and other requirements he would later deem as necessary before confirming their grants.
With these strict rules, donations which have been pouring into the DoH generally remains contained in warehouses and at the BoC.
Another source accused Duque of ignoring calls, suggestions and appeals from other government officials.
Meantime, the DoH test results are lagging at the RITM, the only DoH-accredited hospital which processes the tests for COVID-19.
Twootherhospitals–thePhilippine GeneralHospitalinManilaandtheDr. Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City – have been tapped by the DoH as COVID-19 centers.
Private hospitals have been swamped with suspected COVID-19 cases but most of which are not recognized or not equipped with testing machines and laboratories, as importation and setting up of these machines — which cost $300,000 each — are restricted.
The DoH also denied recognition of the Marikina testing laboratory put up by its local government, claiming it should be set up in its own building.
Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro had wanted to operate the facility even if under DoH management.
“The DoH informed us that it should not be placed within the City Health Office building,” he said. “We dedicated a whole floor for it, with an elevator unit. But still, it was about location, according to the DoH.”
It is not just the doctors and nurses, but the nurse aids, the hospital workers, the second liners and backliners — they are all exposed to the virus,
The DoH also turned down the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center — a DoH-retained Level 3 facility — as an alternative testing center.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines, Duque was facing charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged violations of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, as well as of plunder as defined and penalized under RA 7080 or the Plunder Law.
Duque was charged for alleged conflict of interest in the PhilHealth’s lease on a building owned by his family in Dagupan — a vote-rich city in Pangasinan. PhilHealth, the national health insurer, is an agency under the DoH.
Duque denied the allegations filed against him by the parents of 10 schoolchildren who allegedly died after being administered with the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in 2016. They were assisted by the Public Attorney’s Office.