We bleed for them

We bleed for them

Photo by Bong Son/Kiara Ibanez/Benjie Cuaresma)

This week, health workers from different hospitals held an online coordinated protest from their wards to oppose what they called the continued unjust and anti-health workers’ policies of the Department of Health and the Duterte administration.

Association of Health Workers national president  Robert Mendoza assailed what he described as outright negligence of the Duterte government which he said had caused exasperation among the health workers while demanding a more humane and just policy for the health workers.

Let’s get the chagrin, or pique if we may, from him: “This greatly affects our  health, safety, and well-being and (of) the people that they serve.”

Mendoza noted that on January 6, 2022, the Department of Health released DOH Circular 2022-002 Section E or the Amended Quarantine and Isolation Period for Health Care Workers as Contingency Measure for Sustaining Health Care Capacity.

AHW objected to the DOH circular, saying it was inhumane and unjust to the health workers. They feared the circular would pose further danger to the health and safety of health workers as well as the patients.

On January 14, 2022, DOH issued Department Memorandum 2022-0013 or Updated Guidelines on Quarantine, Isolation, and Testing for COVID-19 Response and Case Management for the Omicron Variant.

DOH updated the quarantine protocol for the asymptomatic but with COVID close contact and fully vaccinated persons to at least five days with NO RT-PCR test needed until his/her quarantine ends.

The updated isolation period for the fully vaccinated general public and health workers was changed to seven days from the onset of symptoms and ten days for the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated persons.

Let’s read Mendoza again: “The updated isolation and quarantine protocol issued by the DOH caused more confusion and are no different from the previous one. We stand firm that asymptomatic but with COVID close contact health workers who underwent five days’ quarantine must get an RT PCR test before returning to work.

“Same goes with the asymptomatic COVID-19 positive, and those with mild symptoms COVID-19 positive health workers who underwent a seven days’ isolation.”

“But generally and at the maximum, we demand a fourteen-day quarantine and isolation protocol for the health workers and general public regardless of whether one is asymptomatic but with close contact, asymptomatic COVID positive, those with mild and moderate symptoms COVID positives in order to ensure the safety of health workers, their patients and to the rest of general public.”

AHW emphasized that health workers were not immortal. We are persuaded to agree.

It said “They are human beings too that need enough rest when they get tired and sick. Getting infected with COVID-19 is not easy. The 5-10 days’ isolation and quarantine period are not enough. DOH must hire more permanent health workers to augment the lack of health personnel.”

As COVID-19 surged anew, many from the ranks of these health workers contracted the new Omicron variant.

Worst of all, it added, the DOH and the Duterte government had been trying to implement One COVID-19 Allowance.

Their words: “We vehemently oppose the One COVID-19 Allowance because it would mean complete removal of our COVID-19 benefits such as special risk allowance, active hazard duty pay, and meal, accommodation, and transportation allowance.

Benjamin Santos, AHW Secretary-General, himself said the scheme was “indeed unjust, a discrimination and insult to us health workers as we were being devalued of our worth as front liners fighting this pandemic.”

Something really must be done. And quickly.


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