DOH sends medicines, eye drops, other supplies to areas badly-hit by Taal eruption

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2020   •   1085

Volunteers provide free medical examinations inside an evacuation center in Santo Tomas, Batangas, Philippines, 14 January 2020. Volunteers provide free medical examinations inside an evacuation center in Santo Tomas, Batangas, Philippines, 14 January 2020.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it has ramped up its support and augmented resources in response to the ongoing eruption of Taal Volcano.

In a statement, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they have sent medicines, including eye drops and asthma medication, and other supplies such as face masks and water purification tablets, to areas that were heavily affected by the ashfall brought about by the volcanic eruption.

“We have sent drugs, medicines such as eye drops and asthma medication, medical supplies including N95 and surgical face masks, collapsible water containers and jerry cans, water purification tablets, and hygiene kits to CALABARZON and the National Capital Region (NCR),” Duque said.

He added that the additional logistical support is expected to be delivered today.

Duque said they have also deployed personnel to 139 evacuation centers and will continue to conduct Rapid Health Assessment in different affected municipalities in the region.

The DOH has raised Code White Alert in light of Taal volcano’s explosive eruption to maintain continuous coordination with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), and DOH centers for health development in Calabarzon and Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, the DOH Center for Health Development Region 4A, including all its hospitals, was placed on Code Blue Alert.

The department also activated its Health Response Cluster, conducted disease surveillance, and procured N95 masks and medicines for respiratory ailments.

Under code white alert, all hospital personnel are placed on standby for deployment while code blue alert means that half of all hospital personnel are required to report for duty to provide medical assistance and services.

“We advise people with asthma to wear the N95 mask, while those not suffering from respiratory ailments may use dust or surgical masks,” Duque said.

“Those who experience eye irritations or difficulty in breathing should seek immediate consultation at the nearest health facility for proper treatment,” he added.

The health official likewise assured that the government is continuously monitoring the developments of the eruption in the Taal region and will respond to the health needs of the people.

Deployment of Barrio Doctors to Cebu City now voluntary – DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   June 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has changed its decision of mandatory deployment of barrio doctors to Cebu City, the new epicenter of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), following opposition to its planned augmentation of healthcare workers to the city.

On Monday (June 30), the DOH Region 6 in Western Visayas issued an order temporarily suspending the deployment of 40 rural doctors to the virus-stricken city.

 The Regional Office maintained it will not lift the suspension unless concerns and issues raised by the healthcare workers and stakeholders are settled.

The DOH confirmed the action of its Regional Office in Western Visayas thus it decided to commission barrio doctors who will be sent to private hospitals in Cebu City on a voluntary basis after discussions with other DOH Regional Offices and hospital management in Western and Central Visayas. 

“Meron naman tayong ipapadala kaya lang hindi na iyong nailista namin na pangalan. Voluntary na iyong magiging proseso [We will be deploying a team but not those who we previously listed. The process will now be voluntary],” confirmed DOH Undersecretary and Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“So among all of these DTTBs (Doctors to the Barrios) who are willing and amenable to these types of arrangements they are the ones who are going to be deployed to Region 7,” she added.

The DOH clarified that the main tasks of the augmentation force do not include surgery and other critical care functions that are assigned to resident doctors in Cebu.

Hindi sila ilalagay sa mga areas na like operating rooms. Iyong mga may specialization na kailangan [They will not be assigned in areas like operating rooms but only those who have the needed specialization],” Vergeire explained.

“They would be supplemental to the Triage area. Sa mga outpatient units doon sila ilalagay [They will be assigned in the outpatient units],” she added.

Deployment of rural doctors or those under the ‘Doctor of the Barrios’ will be every two weeks.

They will be given two week rest every time they return to their localities to complete the required quarantine period. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH deploys 15 doctors to Cebu City

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 29, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) deployed 15 doctors to Cebu City under their Doctors to the Barrio (DTTB) Program on Monday (June 29).

During an interview on ‘Get it Straight with Daniel Razon’, DOH Region 7 Spokesperson Dr. Jean Loreche assured that the doctors will receive proper training and compensation.

“Right now we have in our list six doctors to the barrios, dalawa ang deputized physicians natin. Mayroon po tayong from the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] na seven po na ipapadala po nila from Luzon to be able to augment manpower here in Cebu City, she said.

The DTTB earlier slammed the DOH for its “abrupt exploitative order” in deploying doctors to Cebu City, saying the doctors were not properly informed about the situation.

“The DTTBs and the local chief executives should have been represented in decision-making involving this temporary reassignment. Failing to do so makes such directives exploitative for doctors and inconsiderate for the communities that they serve. There is complete disregard to the concerns of the doctors and the local chief executives,” the DTTB said in a statement on Sunday (June 28).

The DOH, meanwhile, defended that the the temporary deployment of doctors will help address the overwhelmed capacity of private hospitals in Cebu City.

“Cebu City’s health care system is overwhelmed with patient load at the moment,” according to the DOH statement on Monday.

Loreche, however, reported that the region’s health care system can still manage the surge of cases in Cebu City, contrary to the report of the DOH Central Office.

The DOH Region 7 official also reiterated that the surge of cases is due to the categorized testing they conducted last May where 45,000 residents underwent COVID-19 testing.

“So ito pong mga numero na nakikita natin ngayon dito sa Cebu City, ito lang po ay a reflection of the zero prevalence data na ginawa namin,” Loreche said.

The DOH Central earlier reported that the critical care utilization in Cebu City has already reached critical level which prompted the deployment of rural doctors to the area.

There are currently over 5,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Cebu City. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH targets to reach 1 million COVID-19 tests until end of July

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 29, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) is targeting to reach one million coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests by the end of July, amid the surge of confirmed cases in the country.

The Health Department has already conducted over 675,485 COVID-19 tests since the outbreak. The department also reported 69 licensed testing laboratories in the country.

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Rosario Vergeire said they are confident of reaching the one million target.

“We are seeing na ma-attain natin itong one million na ito pagdating ng end of July (We are seeing that we can attain one million by the end of July) because as of now, we already have about 600,000 plus na nate-test na po sa buong Pilipinas mula nung nag umpisa tayo mag-test, (600,000 plus people have already been tested in the Philippines since we began conducting COVID-19 testing),” she said.

The national government previously said it is targeting to test around two percent or almost two million of the total population.

Meanwhile, the DOH has already announced that they will expand the COVID-19 testing in the country. This will include other subgroups such as medical frontliners, barangay health workers, personnel at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), persons deprived of liberty (PDL), and sick patients.

As of Sunday (June 29), the DOH reported 35,455 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country with 9,686 recoveries. Death toll, meanwhile, is at 1,244. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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