By Hannah L. Torregoza
Senator Imelda “Imee” Marcos has sought approval of a bill that would make the recruitment for a medical reserve corps a priority of the government as the number of COVID-19 cases outside Metro Manila rises.
Marcos has filed Senate Bill No. 1592, or the proposed Medical Reserve Corps Act, which primarily seeks to strengthen the government’s preparedness and response to public health emergencies and creating a medical reserve corps to reduce the adverse health, economic and social impact to the Filipino people.
Marcos said she is uneasy about the Department of Health’s (DOH) lack of transparent data on whether hospitals were reaching maximum capacity and if testing centers had enough qualified personnel to attain the goal of testing 50,000 people per day by the end of June.
Thus, she said, recruitment for a medical reserve corps must begin soon before health workers reach their breaking point.
“Let’s not wait for future epidemics and pandemics to push our highly stressed medical frontliners to their human limits. Their safety is our safety too,” Marcos said.
Marcos also expressed fear that possible mutations of the virus and the emergence of potential epidemics of dengue and leptospirosis may complicate the fight against COVID-19 with the onset of the rainy season.
“We can’t afford this prolonged guessing game about whether the country is truly flattening the curve,” Marcos said.
“We missed the target to increase testing capacity to 30,000 people per day by the end of May and have been stuck at about 10,000 to 15,000 daily,” she stressed.
Under the bill, the medical reserve corps will be composed of volunteer health care providers, as individuals or institutions whom the government can train and call to duty, and provided with proper compensation.
Marcos’ bill also calls for a database of recruits that will need to be updated quarterly by the Department of Health (DOH), Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
“Coordination with local government units (LGUs) will also be important to designate quarantine areas in advance and staff them adequately,” Marcos said.