Philippines to start local production of PPEs

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2020   •   744

MANILA, Philippines – To address the increasing demand for personal protective equipment (PPEs) in the country, the national government and member-companies of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) will begin local production of medical-grade PPEs for healthcare workers amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Garment exporters agreed to begin production next week as soon as the imported materials arrive.

“Once operational, these factories will be able to produce 10,000 PPEs a day,” assured Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Once completed, the locally-produced PPEs are expected to help frontline health workers in COVID-risk hospital situations in operating rooms, COVID-19 positive wards and Intensive Care Units (ICU).

Healthcare groups have been reportedly calling for donations of PPEs amid depleting supplies due to the rapid spike of coronavirus positive cases in the country.

Since April 1, the Department of Health (DOH) have facilitated the arrival of PPE sets procured by the national government which were initially distributed to COVID-19 referral hospitals like the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC); San Lazaro Hospital; Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP); Philippine General Hospital (PGH); Dr. Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital; and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC).

The DOH said additional 900,000 PPE donations are scheduled to arrive between April 6 to 24.  MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Solon pushes for mandatory use of face shield in public transport

Marje Pelayo   •   July 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — House Committee on Transportation Chair Edgar Sarmiento submitted a resolution seeking to make wearing of face-shields in public transport mandatory.

Sarmiento argued that with such measure, the government may increase the allowable capacity of public utility vehicles as face shields could protect commuters from COVID-19 transmission. 

Sarmiento also urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to oblige commuters to don personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face mask, face shield, gloves and similar protective gear to curb the spread of the virus in public transport.

The lawmaker cited in his resolution a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Standards which revealed that wearing a face shield gives 96% protection from exposure to the virus and 97% protection from contamination and infection.

“We will be increasing, supposedly, the capacity of the rails, the capacity of the buses,” Sarmiento noted.

“Pero ang pasahero kung naka-shield may maskara not only 50% we can increase it further. Tapos hindi lang sila nagkakaharap nagtatalikuran din sila, (If passengers wear face shield, we could allow not only 50% but we can increase it further. Also, aside from facing each other, commuters may also seat back-to-back),” he added.

Wearing a face shield is also being proposed to be included in the government’s minimum public health standards which, if approved, will become mandatory in public areas.

“We will execute the stringent enforcement of minimum public health standards,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

“Ito po yung hugas kamay, suot ng mask, social distancing at pagsuot na rin po ng face shields, apat na po ngayon ang ating minimum public health standards, ( these are the washing of hands, wearing of face mask, social distancing, and wearing of face shield. Those four now comprise our minimum public health standards),” he added.

Meanwhile, Dean Vicente Belizario of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Public Health said there is no assurance that a person will not get infected when using or wearing a face shield.

Even the use of motorcycle backride barriers cannot guarantee full protection from infection. 

“Kulang pa po ang ebidensya. Maaaring gumawa ng pag-aaral para ma-establish kung ano ang naitutulong ng barrier o shield pero (There is not enough evidence. Maybe a study can be made to determine the value of a barrier or shield) theoretically, it should add to the layers of protection,” Belizo explained. 

He said that it is still best to constantly remind passengers and drivers to properly wear their PPEs and religiously obey all government – imposed health protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Supply of PPE in PH enough for healthcare workers — DOH

Marje Pelayo   •   July 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) maintained that the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the country is enough for the use of health care workers. 

The agency responded to the claims of a group of nurses from San Lazaro Hospital saying they were not treated well in the hospital.

Iyong PPE sa San lazaro they have enough supply (San Lazaro Hospital has enough supply of PPE). They have adequate supply. Hindi naman ito pinagdadamot ng administration para sa kanilang mga empleyado (The administration is not depriving its employees of PPE supply), ” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The nurses held a ‘silent protest’ in front of the hospital by taking their shoes off and displaying them at the hospital entrance.

(Ipinoprotesta namin) iyong fatigue, iyong under staffing, iyong hindi adequate ang protection nila, iyong kanilang unhealthy workplace environment, iyong kanilang exposure to COVID infection,” said Eleonor Nolasco, the vice president of the group Filipino Nurses United.

(We are protesting because of fatigue, under staffing, inadequate protection, unhealthy workplace environment, the staff’s exposure to COVID infection.)

The DOH assured that the grievances of the protesting frontliners have already been discussed with the hospital management.

“Kinausap na sila ni Secretary Duque at araw- araw tinatawaagan natin sila para i-check nga kung ano ang progress ng pag-uusap din nila with the group of nurses,” assured Vergeire.

(Secretary Duque already discussed the matter with them and everyday, they are being checked as regards the progress relative to what was discussed with the group of nurses.)

The official also noted that the healthcare workers must have been receiving their respective hazard pay and quarantine leave. 

But the group of nurses is determined to sustain their demonstration up to the day of President Rodrigo Duterte’s state of the nation address (SONA) next week. 

Para ipakita na sa apat na taon na andito kami sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang gobyerno lahat ng mga hinaing ng nurses ay hindi sapat na natugunan (To show them that in the past four years under this government, the nurses’ concerns were not sufficiently addressed),” Nolasco said. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Duterte defends DOH amid controversy on ‘overpriced’ PPEs

Marje Pelayo   •   May 26, 2020

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)

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