Duterte defends DOH amid controversy on ‘overpriced’ PPEs

Marje Pelayo   •   May 26, 2020   •   491

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has defended the Department of Health (DOH) for the alleged ‘overpriced’ procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs) amounting to P1,100 per piece. 

During a late-night briefing in Malacañang, the Chief Executive responded to criticisms by some lawmakers saying he gave his approval to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release funds for the purchase of medical supplies including the PPEs may it be high priced as he ordered concerned agencies not to recycle PPEs.

“I gave him the instruction and I admit it in public now. [It told him:] Do everything you can. Whether it’s cheap or it’s expensive, just go ahead and do something about it,” the President said as he recalled his directive to Secretary Francisco Duque III on the procurement of medical supplies.

Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, speaking on the procurement, said they were just abiding by the international standards on the procurement of medical equipment especially the PPEs.

“This is the standard by DOH and the FDA. (They’re of) international standards and we’re following that. We don’t go below (because) the company can be sued. We can be sued,” Lao told the President to which he agreed.

“Buhay iyan. Tama iyan. Iyon ang binili ninyo. Walang problema [It’s life that we’re concerned at so it’s just right that you purchase such type. No problem],” the President told his Cabinet. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

MRT-3 depot personnel don full PPEs after 36 workers contract COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   January 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —The management of Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) has ordered its personnel to put on full personal protective equipment (PPE) with face masks and shields to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) within the depot. 

This, after 36 depot personnel and six workers of the train’s maintenance provider Sumitomo-MHI-TESP contracted COVID-19 prompting the management to place the entire depot under “enhanced access control”. 

All infected personnel were immediately isolated and placed under quarantine.

Under “enhanced access control,” only personnel who test negative in the RT-PCR swab testing will be allowed entry into the depot.

They are required to submit a health declaration form twice daily as part of the monitoring of their individual health conditions.

Also, regular temperature checking is imposed on all entering and exiting employees and those with temperature higher than 37.7 degrees Celsius will not be allowed inside.

All measures are aimed at protecting depot personnel as well as MRT-3 passengers from contracting COVID-19.

Gov’t officials not priority for COVID-19 vaccine – Duque

Marje Pelayo   •   December 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has admitted that the year 2020 was the most difficult year for the Department of Health (DOH). 

“Basta ang masasabi ko ang 2020 is the most difficult year in the history of the Department. The most difficult,” he said emphasizing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the biggest challenge facing the global health care system this year.

“Even the most powerful countries talagang pinaiyak ng COVID-19. Lahat talaga umiyak dito. Sobrang takot, pag-aalangan, sobrang maraming mga unknowns,” he added.

Despite all these, the Health Chief is grateful for the public’s efforts to combat the virus, and that he hopes that a vaccine will be available by 2021.

“Hindi naman tayo natinag at patuloy naman tayo sa pag-unlad ng kapasidad natin across the five pillars of the pandemic response,” he said.

The country is now preparing its cold storage for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines as they should remain in extremely low temperatures.

Duque added that the government should also tighten its border control to curb the spread of COVID-19 especially in the face of a new strain currently affecting a population in the United Kingdom.

While doing so, the country must also expand its health capacity, its capability to flatten the curve of infection, and maintain balance between the economy and health of the public.

“So iyong equilibrium na iyan napakamahalaga po dahil gaya ng sinabi ko—yung goal dito is really economic recovery and normalcy of the lives of our people,” he said.

“So marami po tayong ginagawa yung five: prevention, detection, isolation, treatment, and reintegration strategy in our pandemic response,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duque stressed that healthcare workers, the poorest Filipinos, and uniformed personnel are among the priorities for vaccination.

He assured that there will be no VIP treatment among government officials when it comes to access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Babantayan natin iyan kaya maganda po ang papel na ginagampanan ng media dahil talagang kasama po namin kayo na magmamatyag. We will look into this na wala pong mga tinatawag nating VIP treatment,” Duque said.

The Health Secretary still reminds the public to observe proper health protocols even with the availability of the vaccine so as to curb the spread of COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

DOH suggests face masks, other creative alternatives as ‘safe’ holiday gifts

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday urged the public to consider giving holiday gifts that will promote health and safety from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said they are particularly suggesting giving face masks and face shields as gifts to help ensure protection from COVID-19 transmission.

“When planning for the holiday gift-giving, think of ligtas na regalo – which gifts can make them safe. One thing we recommend are face masks which may serve as a constant reminder to the recipient to wear one,” Duque said in a statement.

He also suggests giving gifts like healthy food and fruits, exercise gadgets/equipment that promote physical activity and healthy lifestyle, as well as improve body resistance against diseases.

Duque likewise recommends do-it-yourself (DIY) gifts to limit the chance of in-store shopping. He also noted that the best gift they can give to their loved ones is a safer holiday celebration.

“We can also give DIY gifts that will not require us to go shopping, like handmade cards, arts and crafts, or a video,” he said.

“Such gifts make it more personal and also keep you from going to crowded places, thus reducing the risk of acquiring or transmitting the virus,” he said.

The health chief also reminded the public to check the label on kids’ toys to determine its safety.

“When giving gifts to kids, always ensure that it is safe for them and check the warning label on kids’ toys,” Duque said.

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