DOH opens call center for COVID-19 concerns

Robie de Guzman   •   March 18, 2020   •   947

FILE PHOTO: Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said that emergency hotlines which will cater to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) concerns has been opened.

The move is in cooperation with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and PLDT.

The DOH said that those who have questions on whether they are infected with COVID-19, exposed to virus-infected patients or those seeking assistance may call the hotlines 02-894-COVID (02-894-26843) and 1555.

The information collected from emergency calls is transmitted to the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center and other relevant agencies for immediate facilitation and response.

“We expect an influx of calls in the first few days of the launch of the call center. We ask for the public’s cooperation and patience to allow any relevant and important calls to go through. In that way, we can provide timely medical assistance to those who really need it,” Health Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

The DOH said the free 24/7 services will be available through 02-894-COVID. Smart and PLDT subscribers will also be able to use the 1555 hotline for free.

“Subscribers from other networks can access the 1555 hotline once technical adjustments are completed,” the department added.

DOH looking for 95,000 allied medical professionals to join contact tracing efforts

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) needs to hit a benchmark of 126,000 Covid trackers to comply with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) of one tracker per 800 Filipinos.

So far, the DOH has 38,000 contact tracers across the country and is now calling for the cooperation of local government units in hiring more for their respective localities.

“Ito pong 95,000 na sinasabi, kagaya ng sabi ninyo, amin pong hihingin ang tulong ng ating mga local government units para makahanap po tayo nitong ating mga contact tracers na ito (We will ask the help of local government units to scout for the additional 95,000 contact tracers),” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Contact tracers will receive salary and compensation set by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Vergeire said the DOH has already submitted a proposal to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with regard to the applicant requirements and qualifications.

Specifically, applicants must be allied medical professionals or graduates and undergraduates of allied medical courses. 

“Competencies include data gathering, being able to interview cases and close contacts to gather data on travel history and conduct health assessment, and advocating public health because they need to provide health education messages as well,” Vergeire said of the job description. 

The DOH is also eyeing augmentation from barangay health workers and social workers to help in the government’s response against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The WHO pointed out earlier the need to fast track contact tracing efforts in the Philippines to be able to immediately isolate those with direct contact to confirmed COVID-19 cases to curb the spread of the virus. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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Duque: Pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto, ligtas basta’t matitiyak ang minimum health standards

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala si Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III na ligtas ang pagbubukas ng klase sa Agosto 24 basta’t maipatutupad ang kinakailangang minimum health standards sa mga paaralan.

Inihayag ni Duque ang kanyang opinyon nang hingan siya ng pahayag ni Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go sa isinagawang virtual hearing ng Senate Committee on Health and Demography ngayong Martes.

“Pag-aralan po namin maigi ito pero sa tingin po namin, ligtas naman po kung bubuksan natin ang klase by August 24. Ang kinakailangan po rito, siguraduhin lamang na ang lahat ng ating minimum standards for health ay nakatalaga,” ani Duque.

Kabilang aniya sa minimum health standards na kailangang masunod ay ang pagkakaroon ng physical distancing, palagiang paghuhugas at pagdi-disinfect ng mga kamay at pagkakaroon ng thermal scanner upang ma-check kung mataas ang temperatura ng katawan ng isang tao.

“Tingin ko magiging ligtas naman po ang pagbubukas ng ating pong mga paaralan at meron din po tayong evidence-based na atin pong titingnan gaya ng ginagawa po ng IATF,” ani Duque.

“We will continue to evaluate yung mga bilang ng mga kaso down to the barangay levels,” dagdag pa niya.

Una nang sinabi ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa kanyang public address noong Lunes ng gabi na hindi siya papayag na muling magbalik-eskwela ang mga mag-aaral hangga’t walang natutuklasang bakuna kontra novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sa paglilinaw naman ng Malakanyang ngayong Martes, ang pagkakaroon ng face-to-face o physical classes in classroom ang tinutulan ng Pangulo at tuloy pa rin naman ang pagbubukas ng academic schoolyear 2020-2021 sa Agosto.

Kung mananatili pa rin ang banta ng COVID-19 bandang Agosto, ipatutupad naman ng pamahalaan ang flexible blended learning sa lahat ng antas.

Kabilang sa paraang ito ang paggamit ng telebisyon at radyo upang maipagpatuloy ang edukasyon ng mga mag-aaral, lalo na sa mga nasa liblib na lugar at hindi maaabot ng internet.

“Kung hindi po talaga dumating ang new normal, at hindi mai-lift ang community quarantines, di po ibig sabihin na di na mag-aaral ang ating mga kabataan. Mayroon po tayong tinatawag na blended learning sangayon kay Sec. Briones ng DepEd, gagamitin po natin ang telebisyon, ang radio at ang internet para ipagpatuloy po ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan,” ani Roque.

Suportado naman ni Duque ang mga plano ng Department of Education (DepEd) upang maseguro ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga mag-aaral.

Una nang sinabi ng DepEd na bukod sa pagsasagawa ng online classes, pinag-aaralan na rin nila sa ngayon ang iba’t ibang learning tools, work arrangement para sa mga guro at maging ang sistema ng assessment sa mga mag-aaral. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

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