‘Understaffed’ PH health workers, frontliners continue to man defense lines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — The COVID-19 pandemic has left every country reeling and the Philippines is no exception.

Now that the country is seeing its fair share of woes in this health crisis, Filipino health workers and frontliners continue to man the war zones in this pandemic despite the challenges they face everyday, including the lack of manpower and personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals.

“Reality is that we’re currently understaffed, not just RITM, but I think all over the Philippines. ‘yong mga doctors din natin, frontliners, and nurses, nagkakasakit na din [Our doctors, nurses, and frontliners are already getting sick.],” said Doctor Therese Suñe of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The RITM is one of the testing centers for the coronavirus disease in the country.

Suñe added that some of the doctors and health workers who are feeling unwell, had to undergo self-quarantine in their own homes to make sure that they do not risk lives of their patients.

“But right now, we’re doing our jobs naman po. Medyo nakakapagod na rin but we have to do our jobs on what we’re called to do [It is tiring but we have to do our jobs on what we’re called to do],” Suñe told CNN Philippines on Just the Facts Monday.

She was also quick to say that it is not only those who work in the medical field are considered as frontliners. This include janitors, security guards, and other institutional workers.

“I hope the people should understand that aside from us, there are a lot of people risking their lives,” Suñe added.

The country has seen its number of cases balloon in one week, from 10 to 142. However, there are now three recorded recoveries as of Monday.

The entire island of Luzon has also been placed under an “enhanced community quarantine” to contain the spread of the virus.

In line with these measures, the government’s economic team has prepared a ₱27.1-billion spending plan for everyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic as an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon takes place.

The SM Group also committed to donate ₱100-million to government hospitals including RITM and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) “for their urgent needs and for improving their laboratory testing capacity.”

SM has also allocated personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to the UP Medical Foundation Inc, their statement said Monday night.

Suñe said they are already running low on PPEs at RITM.

The Department of Finance said that ₱3.1 billion has been set aside to buy more coronavirus test kits. The funds came from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and a grant from the Asian Development Bank.