Health workers want to help, not 'demean' gov’t with COVID-19 suggestions: PMA

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2020 09:59 AM

National Kidney Transplant Institute workers conduct a silent protest over current health and working conditions in the hospital in Quezon City on July 25, 2020. The workers cite rising COVID-19 cases among health workers without free swab testing, improper distribution to no proper work benefits, and understaffing due to resigning workers from the hospital. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Medical frontliners gave suggestions on the country’s pandemic response to “help” authorities and not to “demean” the government as claimed by President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine Medical Association said Monday. 

Health workers earlier asked the government to place back Metro Manila under stricter lockdown measures to arrest a spike in COVID-19 cases—a suggestion that Duterte followed over the weekend. 

The President, however, also told health workers to “do the soul-searching” and “do not try to demean government” by criticizing it. 

“No. Our purpose really is to help, to get some breather, to really make sure that we are doing the right thing,” said PMA president Dr. Jose Santiago Jr. 

“We have to learn from the past 4 months, what are the weaknesses we had so we can strengthen that in the coming days or in the coming weeks so we are more prepared,” he added. 

A shortage of health workers is among the problems that the government needs to address. While one nurse ideally should tend to only one patient in intensive care, nurses in some hospitals take care of 10 to 15 coronavirus patients, Santiago said. 

Aside from this problem, the Healthcare Professionals Alliance against COVID-19 earlier said the government should also solve the following issues: 

- Failure in finding coronavirus carries due to inaccurate rapid antibody tests;
- Errors in quarantine protocols;
- Insufficient modes of public transport; 
- Public disobedience of health guidelines;
- Breach of quarantine rules in workplaces; and
- Delays in the distribution of cash aid for displaced workers and the poorest families. 

Duterte announced Sunday that Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan would go back to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from Aug. 4 to 18. 

MECQ bans buses, jeepneys, taxis, ride-hailing services, tricycles from plying the roads, and limits the operation of manufacturing plants and other establishments to half of their capacity. 

Coronavirus infections in the Philippines on Sunday breached the 100,000-mark. The country could have 150,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of August, an expert from the University of the Philippines warned. 

“It’s really something that we have to prepare [for] in this kind of battle,” Santiago said of the case projection.