By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Instead of deploying rural health physicians in Regions VI and VII to private hospitals in Cebu City, the Department of Health (DOH) should “step up” its hiring of health personnel and provide them with proper compensation, protection, and security of tenure.
Kabataan partylist Rep. Sarah Elago agreed with the physicians under the government’s Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) program that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III should rethink his directive of deploying some DTTB members to Cebu City to address the increasing number of COVID-19 cases there.
“Instead of ordering the transfer of DTTBs, the DOH must step up its massive emergency hiring of health personnel with proper compensation, protection, and security of tenure to encourage our health workers to apply, and to effectively combat COVID-19 and ensure health for all,” Elago said.
She said they “stand” with DTTBs in strongly condemning Duque’s “abrupt exploitative” order.
Under the directive issued on June 26, the DTTBs from Region VI are expected to report to Cebu from June 30 to September 5, while those from Region VII have to be there from June 26 to July 30, according to reports.
Elago said the government should protect the country’s health workers at all costs, considering their “invaluable contributions” to the country’s fight against COVID-19.
“Protecting our health workers at all cost means saving more lives under a public health crisis,” she said.
The doctors under the DTTB raised concern that prior to the issuance of Duque’s directive, no consultation with stakeholders was conducted, and “no clear information regarding the DTTBs’ safety, protection, lodging, insurance, and specific duties have been provided.”
“There is no better way to recognize the rights and the efforts of our health workers than to provide them all their needs in order to combat the COVID-19. They should be provided with complete sets of PPEs, transportation, food, and regular testing regardless of the symptoms,” Elago said.
She cited that a “comprehensive, health-based, and pro-people measure” is paramount to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Without it, the government would not be able to fully protect the health workers and the Filipino people,” she said.
“Moreover, the government should also strengthen the capacity of our healthcare system and its accessibility to ordinary citizens,” she added.