More medical groups support call for change to Covid-19 response

Aug. 13, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – More groups from the medical community declared support to the health professionals’ call for a “timeout” to address the rising Covid-19 cases and an overwhelmed health care system.

This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte last week lambasted the Philippine College of Physicians, a group comprised of 80 medical societies, for its open letter urging a two week lockdown in Metro Manila amid the surge of Covid-19 infections up to 100,000 cases and thousands by the day that has exhausted health workers.

Though a modified enhanced quarantine is now implemented in Metro Manila and four provinces in Luzon, health frontliners still feel the government has not heeded their pleas for help.

“The burden on our shoulders does not get any lighter when our government is apprehensive to listen to the grievances and concrete recommendations of various medical societies,” the Union Presidents of Private Hospitals in National Capital Region said in their statement.

The group is comprised of employee unions from five major hospitals: St. Lukes, Cardinal Santos, UST Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes, Manila Medical, and said they agree to the call for new solutions as they see their workforce overwhelmed with new cases every day and colleagues getting infected as well.

Another medical group, the Community Medical Practitioners, in their open letter point out the “anxiety and anguish of our overworked, burned out medical colleagues and other health care personnel.”

They said health workers are “inadequately protected due to lack of supplies of even the most basic masks and PPEs, working beyond duty hours without just compensation and hazard benefits, isolated from their families for days or weeks at a time, and in constant fear of contracting the deadly virus and transmitting it to their loved ones and co-workers.”

They criticized the government’s non-implementation of massive testing, the slow processing of test results that has resulted in delays in isolation and treatment of patients.

As community practitioners, they also called out the “unsystematic and harsh application of quarantine measures shoving into further destitution and hunger our poor fellow Filipinos rendered jobless and financially ruined.”

The social amelioration program that the government claimed will help the poor is “sorely inadequate to cover the total number families in dire need of assistance for their very basic necessities,” the group said.

Another group of doctors and health professionals calling itself Second Opinion issued a stronger call for the government to change its framework in handling the pandemic.

“If we are to implement a quarantine, it must be a medical quarantine, with healthcare workers in the lead and with clear health goals and outcomes. To truly benefit our overburdened healthcare workers, a new framework and new leadership direction than the ones we currently have are imperative,” their open letter said

“Too many lives of healthcare workers have been needlessly lost due to the wrong priorities taken by this criminally-negligent, corrupt, and tyrannical government,” they added.

The Second Opinion issued a six-point recommendation that they said is based on the “six pillars of our health care system”: Replacing Health Secretary Francisco Duque and military officials in the Inter-Agency Task Force with “team players from the health and related fields”; active recruitment of health personnel by offering better packages and working conditions; health financing with an initial amount of 90 billion pesos to fund health worker, Covid-related infrastructure and community measures; ensuring service delivery; enhancing capacities in testing, tracing, and treatment in institutions and communities; and improvement of Covid-19 data processing and management will better information dissemination. (

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