Alarm raised over PH’s incapacity to confirm nCov cases, lacking emergency health measures in case of epidemic

Farmers organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said the Philippine government is not taking enough proactive and emergency health measures in preparation for the novel 2019 Corona virus that is now threatening parts of China. “In the past days, we did not declare any confirmed cases of nCov simply because we did not have the capability to test suspected cases. The testing kits from abroad arrived recently and the confirmatory results would be released 48 hours after testing. There are already 23 suspected cases of novel Corona virus infection being monitored by the Department of Health, and majority of those cases are in the poorest regions.

According to the latest WHO bulletin (as of January 29), at least 132 people have died while more than 6,000 have been confirmed infected by the 2019 nCov in 15 countries. Most of the infections were in mainland China with 5,997 cases. Out of the 9,239 suspected cases, 1239 were classified as severe. Outside China, there are already 68 confirmed cases.

“President Duterte must have a sense of emergency on this matter and refrain from his usual business as usual, nonchalant attitude,” Ramos concluded.

“The overall health of Filipinos and the public’s general welfare should be the first priority of the government and the health department. The government should be more vigilant and proactive. It is already alarming that our domestic health and social infrastructures are not equipped to respond to nCov. Filipinos are already very vulnerable, health-wise and the situation could be worse if nCov actually enters the country and we are not prepared for it,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos. Ensuring public health and medical care is a state duty to its citizens. However, in the case of the Philippines, health care became a business for the private sector.

The KMP leader noted that the country’s health human resource is facing a shortage of nearly 10,000 personnel. Almost 25 percent of all barangays do not have a dedicated primary health worker while there is a deficit of almost 80,000 primary health workers in field health facilities. The total health budget for 2020 was even cut by Php10-billion. We must rely on our own capacity to face emerging health threats. The most vulnerable to these threats are the poor and those without means and access to proper health care.”

“Given its own limitations, the health department should intensify public communication and information, conduct house-to-house education and campaign, as well as community-based efforts regarding nCov, and ways to prevent its transmission and spread. LGUs should also mobilize barangay health workers and frontline health teams so that they could provide accurate and reliable information to the public as well as do community surveillance,” Ramos said. #

(Featured image from Rappler)

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