By Hannah L. Torregoza
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday reminded the Department of Health (DOH) the country is need of 130,000 contact tracers and not 130,00 trolls or political supporters.
Drilon said the DOH can tap into the P18-billion fund under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to hire 130,000 contact tracers for COVID-19.
“There are funds made available from the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to boost our contact tracing capability,” Drilon said in a statement.
“The new Bayanihan law made sure that the three T’s (test, trace and treatment) will have ample support and funding,” he pointed out.
“Huwag na po nating haluan ng pulitika ang (let’s not mix politics with) contact tracing. We do not need to create a new network of 130,000 contact tracers. What we need is contact tracers, not an army of political supporters nor trolls,” Drilon reiterated.
He said the fund could be used to hire contact tracers from the existing network of barangay health workers, parent-leaders from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs),
He made the suggestion after some doctors urged the Senate to reconsider its position on the P11.7-billion budget being requested by the health department for the hiring of 130,000 contract tracers.
Drilon assured the DOH is capable to just mobilize around 400 thousand barangay health workers and parent-leaders from the 4Ps to carry out contact tracing.
“They can do contract tracing with ease and efficiency because of their familiarity with the place rather than hiring a new army of contact tracers,” the minority leader said.
But while it can use the fund to engage contact tracers, Drilon urged the department to maximize the use of any available technology and networks of volunteers to boost its contact tracing efforts.
“The contacts of COVID-19 patients should be immediately and properly traced through the use of efficient technology for data collection and analysis,” Drilon said.