Go says healthcare workers’ concerns must be promptly addressed

Go says healthcare workers’ concerns must be promptly addressed

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Amid the rapidly rising number of new COVID-19 cases in the country, potentially caused by the more transmissible Omicron variant, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go urged concerned authorities to ensure that the concerns of healthcare workers are adequately and immediately addressed.

“Kaya panawagan ko sa mga otoridad, bilisan ang hiring at deployment ng ating mga medical personnel, lalo na sa mga critical areas na kung saan marami sa mga healthcare workers ang tinamaan din ng COVID-19. Bilisan din ang pagproseso ng dapat matanggap nilang halaga na naaayon sa ating guidelines,” Go said.

He also urged concerned agencies to speed up the process in the release of the mandated compensation and allowances for HCWs.

“Sila ang mga sundalo sa laban na ito kaya ibigay dapat natin ang lahat ng suporta na maibibigay natin sa kanila sa lalong madaling panahon. Tugunan natin ang kanilang mga hinaing at higit sa lahat, pagaanin natin ang kanilang pinapasan sa pamamagitan ng ating disiplina at pagsunod sa health protocols,” he appealed further.

Some healthcare workers have expressed concern over the shortened mandatory quarantine period for HCWs infected with COVID-19, arguing that the latest guidelines issued by health authorities may put the HCWs at further risk.

“Hinggil sa shortened quarantine period, ito naman ay base sa masusi at maingat na pag-aaral ng ating mga eksperto. Hindi naman ito automatic o mandatory sa lahat ng mga health facilities. Binibigyan lamang ng authority ang mga ospital at local health officials na gawin ito sa mga fully vaccinated healthcare workers kung meron talagang sobrang pangangailangan sa manpower,” he explained.

Go has been steadfast in fighting for the interests and welfare of healthcare workers whom he considers as modern-day heroes who put their lives at the frontline in the country’s fight against an unseen enemy.

“Bilang Chair ng Senate Health Committee, palagi kong isinaaalang-alang ang kapakanan ng ating mga healthcare workers. Sila ay mga tunay na bayani sa ating pakikipagbakbakan sa kalabang hindi naman nakikita. Kailanman, hinding-hindi matutumbasan ng anumang halaga ng pera ang kanilang sakripisyo at panganib sa kanilang buhay,” he said.

Go also authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill 2421 which will provide health workers with a fixed monthly COVID-19 Risk Allowance for the duration of the current State of Emergency in lieu of the special risk allowance and other financial compensation granted under the Bayanihan 2.

Earlier, Go sought for the grant of special risk allowances and other compensation and financial benefits for medical frontliners. He also castigated health officials before regarding the delays in the release of various allowances due the HCWs, including compensation for those who died after contracting COVID-19.

Late last year, he also fought for the increase in the budget for the health department under the General Appropriations Act of 2022, cognizant of the dire need to equip DOH with the necessary resources to continue combating the pandemic.

“Kaya sa budget ngayong taon, ipinaglaban natin na mas lalong madagdagan ang pondo ng DOH upang mas matugunan ang pangangailangan, kasama na ang dagdag na health personnel. Higit P17 bilyon ang inilaan sa pag-hire at deploy ng health personnel sa mga probinsya samantalang P4.3 bilyon ay inilalaan natin para sa COVID-19 Human Resource for Health Emergency Hiring,” he explained.

“Meron din tayong idinagdag na pondong aabot sa P51 bilyon para sa compensation at benepisyo ng ating mga healthcare workers,” he further said.

Meanwhile, Go also believed that the country has improved in managing the pandemic, compared to 2020 when the previously unknown disease first hit the Philippines.

“Maraming mga bansa sa mundo, mahirap man o mayaman, ang patuloy ring nahihirapan sa kasalukuyang pandemya dahil bagong sakit ito at patuloy itong nag-eevolve. Krisis po ito kaya hindi talaga ito madali para kahit kanino,” he explained.

“But just like the rest of the world, we continue to adapt and respond to these challenges based on good science through the help of experts from various fields, through the political will as shown by our leader — President Duterte, and most importantly, with the discipline and cooperation of our people,” he added.

Go cited that despite many challenges, particularly in acquiring the needed vaccines amid initial worldwide shortage, as of January 9, 2022, the Philippines has acquired 213.49 million doses. More than 113.36 million doses were administered, of which 52.39 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated and 57.64 million got their first dose. Around 3.33 million booster shots were also administered.

“Bagamat tumataas muli ang kaso ng may COVID-19 ngayong simula ng taon, kita naman na maraming buhay ang napoproteksyunan dahil marami na ang bakunado at mas marami na ring pasilidad na tumutugon sa pangangailangan ng mga may sakit kumpara noong mga nakaraang taon,” Go said.

“Patunay yan na kung makikiisa at magtutulungan ang taumbayan at ang gobyerno, kaya nating lampasan ang mga magsubok na ito,” he added.

Despite the satisfactory vaccination rollout, Go continues to appeal to the public not to be complacent, especially despite being vaccinated already.

“Huwag tayo magkumpyansa hanggang nandidiyan pa ang banta ng COVID-19. Ang kooperasyon ng lahat at pagmamalasakit natin sa isa’t isa ang kailangan para malampasan ang krisis na ito. Hindi rin ito panahon ng sisihan, panahon ito upang magtulungan at magbayanihan,” he said.

On Monday, the Philippines logged an additional 33,169 new cases, a stark contrast to several hundred only last December. Positivity rate is also 46% high, although 97.1% of those who tested positive are considered as mild and asymptomatic.

In the data published by the Department of Health also on Monday, total intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization nationwide is pegged at 38%, while isolation bed and ward bed utilization rates were 41% each. Rates for the National Capital Region are slightly higher.

“Even with our vaccine rollout, we should not be complacent. May mga hindi pa rin bakunado, marami pa ring naghihirap, at maraming sektor rin ang kailangan ng tulong. Kaya patuloy na sinisikap ng gobyerno na tugunan lahat ng ito. Kasama na diyan ang pangangalaga sa kalagayan ng mga frontliners lalo na mga doctor, nurses at iba pang healthcare workers,” he ended. (ai/mtvn)

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