POPCOM: Over 70% of barangays in PH vulnerable to COVID-19 infection
Marje Pelayo • August 12, 2020 • 89
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Population (POPCOM) has come up with a study revealing a large number of barangays in the country are vulnerable to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection.
Specifically, the agency revealed that over 70 percent of 42,046 barangays in the country are facing high risk of COVID-19 infection because of congestion, crowded housing conditions and the growing number of senior citizens.
Based on POPCOM’s data, the most crowded areas include Region-4A, Region 7 and the National Capital Region (NCR).
In Metro Manila alone, 1,258 barangays or a total of 812,584 houses are considered crowded.
These houses measure to about 20 square meters in floor area each and have an average of at least five occupants.
“So kung titingnan mo, dikit-dikit ang mga kabahayan, maliliit sila, may kasamang senior citizen. Talagang magkakaroon ng problema ang komunidad kung pumasok ang COVID (So if you look at it, the houses are too close to each other, cramped and would usually include an elderly resident. It is a serious problem for the community once penetrated by COVID-19),” explained POPCOM Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III.
The agency stressed that the national government will not be able to eliminate COVID-19 if the local government and the barangays will not exert effort in curbing transmission.
Apart from the localized lockdowns, barangay officials should vigorously check every household within the community to identify those with symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
To do this, POPCOM recommends mobilizing barangay officials and to include them in the contract tracing team as they are already familiar with residents within their area.
Usec. Perez said volunteers can be tapped without spending a huge amount of funds.
“Talagang volunteerism ito. Hindi kailangan ang may sweldo (It would be volunteerism. A salary is not necessary),” Perez said.
“There are 200,000 barangay health workers. Mayroong mga 15, 000 population volunteers; nutrition scholars mga 40,000. Sila ang i-tap natin. Sila ang sanay umikot sa barangay. Kilala nila ang mga kapitbahay nila, (There are around 15,000 population volunteers, and about 40,000 nutrition scholars . Let’s tap them. They’re used to making rounds in their barangays. They know their neighbors),” he added.
POPCOM believes that a potential COVID-19 carrier who roams around the community could infect about 28 persons in a week.
Thus, the agency stressed that apart from hospitals, barangay officials must give priority to their respective communities given that only about five percent of the barangays across the country have existing contract tracing teams.
“Sa ospital sinasagot na lang niya ang mga kakulangan sa komunidad (Hospitals just augment what is lacking in the community),” Perez explained.
“Ang ibig sabihin niyan pag puno ang ospital nagkukulang ang public health sa barangay (It means, when hospitals reach full capacity, it’s because barangay public health facilities are falling short),” he added.
Perez noted that though the implementation of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) is best for the economy, he suggests an assessment of the areas where quarantine restrictions can be lifted or tightened.
Perez said, maintaining the operation of industries that employ a high percentage of the marginalized sector, such as manufacturing, could also help improve the country’s overall situation. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Population (POPCOM) fears the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may infect millions of Filipinos in a period of one year if the public will not support the government’s measures in fighting the disease.
In an interview with UNTV’s Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary and POPCOM Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III said such estimate is based on the experience of other countries that also suffered the virulence of COVID-19.
“Baka sa loob ng isang taon hanggang Disyembre ay umabot ng 40 to 60 percent ng population ay magkaroon ng COVID-19 [There’s a possibility that come December, about 40 to 60 percent of the country’s population is infected with COVID-19],” Perez warned.
“Pero katulad ng sinasabi nila, 80% ng magkakaroon ng COVID-19 ay walang sintomas or very mild lamang ang symptoms [And like what experts were saying, about 80 percent of the people who may be infected by COVID-19 show no symptoms or just have mild symptoms], ” he added.
Usec. Perez noted the huge impact that the crisis may have on the elderly sector or the senior citizens who are considered the most vulnerable.
“Batay sa bilang namin at ng (University of the Philippines Population Institute) may 5.5 million na senior citizen tayo na dalikado sa ganitong sitwasyon kaya mahigpit ang bilin na huwag silang lalabas ng bahay,” he said.
[Based on (POPCOM) and the UPPI’s tally, the country has about 5.5 million senior citizens who are at risk that’s why we are strictly warning them to stay at home.]
The official also noted that the country’s health system will be greatly burdened if the number of COVID-19 patients reaches 50,000 due to the scarcity of ventilators.
At present, the country has only about 1,500 ventilators, Usec. Perez said.
Another possibility is the rise in the number of unplanned pregnancies which may reach 50,000 to 100,000 if family planning programs will not be implemented during the ECQ.
The Philippines has a current population of 109,236,504 as of Tuesday (April 7) based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data. MNP (with inputs from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) plans to release helpful guidelines to ensure unhampered execution of other health-related programs of the government amid the imposed enhanced community quarantine.
According to POPCOM, programs on family planning and reproductive health must be implemented side by side to avert population growth at this time of health crisis.
Economic and Development Undersecretary and POPCOm Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III explained that increase in population is highly possible during lockdown as couples are expected to spend most of their time with each other and their families.
Records show that during the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, a significant growth in population was noted in Eastern Samar as residents remained in evacuation centers.
“Kung hindi tayo magpatuloy ng programa natin sa family planning, dadami ang bilang ng mga unplanned pregnancy, (If we stop our programs on family planning, the rate of unplanned pregnancy will grow),” Preze explained.
“Mabu-burden pa rin uli ang ating health system ng biglang paglaki, (Sudden increase in population will further burden our health system),” he added.
The official also noted the possible emergence of diseases especially in urban poor areas due to congestion. For this reason, he suggested that barangay health workers should do regular monitoring.
“Katulad ng tuberculosis, HIV, mga RH related na diseases, ang mga sakit ng mga matatanda dahil nahihiya sila o natatakot lumabas ng bahay, iniinda na lang nila sa bahay ang sakit (Conditions like tuberculosis, HIV, other reproductive health-related diseases, disease associated with old age, patients are perhaps embarrassed of their condition or worried of going out so they just keep it to themselves),” Perez said.
The official said it is important that during this time, provinces must prepare and equip their health facilities and health care workers ahead of potential increase in cases of COVID-19 in their respective localities. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s population in 2020 is expected to slow down, according to the Commission on Population (PopCom), with an estimated growth of only 108.7 million next year.
According to the agency, the growth rate of the country’s population dropped to 1.5% compared to 1.7% from last year.
One reason, the agency concludes, is the household’s preference to limit their number of children.
From four children, most couples prefer to have at least two to three children.
“Ang mga bata na nagsisimula ng pamilya, minimum wage [earners] (Those who start a family at an early age are minimum wage earners),” explained PopCom Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III.
“So talagang napipilitan silang pag-aralan ang situwasyon nila at pinipili nila talaga na magkaroon lang ng bilang ng anak na kaya nilang suportahan (So they are forced to plan for the situation and they choose to limit the number of children to support to),” he added.
Nevertheless, the agency said, this decision will not affect the country’s workforce because the Philippines currently has 69 million Filipinos able for employment.
The only problem, the agency noted, is the population congestion in Metro Manila, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon.
“Doon nagpupuntahan dahil may opportunity ng trabaho [at] hindi ganoon kahirap ang buhay (They go there because of job opportunities and the manner of living is not that difficult),” the official said.
PopCom said economic activities like the government’s Build Build Build program can help improve the lives of those in the regions.
Apart from this, the agency noted the need for the government to set up livelihood programs for the 10 million senior citizens to augment their needs given that they only receive a small amount in pension.
“Nakita naming na well-educated ang older population natin (We’ve assessed that our older population is well educated),” Perez said.
“May kaalaman, may wisdom, dapat i-tap ng gobyerno iyan (They have the knowledge and wisdom; government should tap them),” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)
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