By Mario Casayuran
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said today the Department of Health (DOH) could adopt contact tracing solutions from local government units (LGUs) that are simple, cheap and effective in containing the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Senator Panfilo Lacson
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
"These are simple technologies that we now take for granted may yet be the biggest help in fighting the spread of COVID-19, as shown by the initiatives of at least two local governments,’’ Lacson said.
Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, cited Carmona, Cavite under Mayor Roy Loyola that has developed a contact tracing app - the Carmona COVID-19 Tracker.
‘’The app, which works on Android and iOS, can use the mobile phone's GPS to track users’ location history,’’ he said.
Lacson said the app allows users to log interactions with other people; and do self-assessment if they experience symptoms.
"In just a few days of implementation, the local government has already signed up 42,000 out of the municipality's 97,557 residents. For those without smartphones, the local government's barangay and police personnel can input the information for them,’’ he said.
Lacson also cited Baguio City under Mayor Benjamin Magalong who is doing contact tracing using the EndCovid-19 system, which relies on the geographical information system (GIS) platform to plot the areas where possible COVID-19 carriers live - similar to that which he introduced when he was Cordillera regional police chief.
"Combined with cognitive interviews and analytical tools, the system has made Baguio City a model for contact tracing,’’ he explained.
"With these technologies, we can potentially save P11.7 billion being asked by the Department of Health for contact tracers. I share Senate President Vicente Sotto III's sentiment that there are more practical uses for the amount. These may include livelihood programs for those affected by the COVID-triggered lockdowns, among others,’’ he said.
"Our national agencies, including the Department of Health, need not look far for contact tracing solutions that are effective, yet are not intrusive. Instead, they must take a cue from our LGUs. Especially given our limited resources, they can do no less,’’ he added.