DOH urged to address shortage of health workers, ambulances, medical supplies
Cebu City 2nd District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa is calling on the Department of Health (DOH) to address with dispatch the shortage of health workers, ambulances, and medical supplies in the city, which is now overwhelmed by the unabated number of patients who tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
He said the DOH should “immediately” step up and resolve the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the depleting number of medical workers, and scarce medical supplies in the city, particularly in areas with high virus cases.
“With the daily unabated number of positive cases in Cebu City, the local health care system naturally breaks down. People are dying even before theycould get admitted and tested,” Abellanosa lamented.
“Medical personnel, ambulances, equipment and supplies are running very low. I hope Secretary (Francisco) Duque (III) can have these addressed immediately,” he said in a text message.
Abellanosa expressed the same concern of the Cebu Medical Society, stressing that the city’s health system is “exhausted and overwhelmed” that has left many patients untreated.
“DOH should bring in more health workers now,” he said. Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, who was tasked by President Duterte to oversee COVID-19 response in Cebu City, has recommended the deployment additional health workers in the city. “If we can have 30 percent more of what we have here,” Cimatu said.
With the current state of COVID19 infections, Cimatu said he has recommended to President Duterte to keep Cebu City under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“We have to maintain the quarantine level here,” Cimatu, head of Region 7 COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), told ANC on Tuesday.
“Kung sa first aid, ito, stop the bleeding because it is bleeding now (If this is first aid, what we have to do is stop the bleeding first, because it is bleeding now),” Cimatu added.
Cimatu said he also requested for additional rooms in hospitals, additional quarantine stations for Cebu City, and is eyeing to convert large spaces in the city into isolation facilities like what the government did in Metro Manila.
He also said that isolation centers put up inside barangays in Cebu City will be transferred farther to further prevent the local transmission of COVID-19.
In an interview with ANC on Tuesday, Cimatu said the putting up of isolation centers within barangays has contributed to the increase in the number of cases in the city.
“I have to transfer iyong isolation structure nila outside of their respective barangays. Ilalayo ko para di na maulit ito (I have to transfer the isolation structures outside of their respective barangays. They need to be moved farther),” he added.
He is also eyeing the conversion of the Cebu Coliseum into a quarantine facility for coronavirus patients in the city and nearby areas.
While there are existing quarantine facilities in Cebu City, there is a need to pass a measure seeking the creation of regional quarantine facilities, Abellanosa said.
He rallied behind the passage of House Bill No. 7005, the proposed “Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020, principally authored by Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr.
“We badly need these facilities. We are yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the darkness of this pandemic. This pandemic continues to be a knee on our neck,” he said.
Cimatu also defended the deployment of more military personnel in the city, saying it helped in terms of manning checkpoints and preventing residents from going out of their homes.
“The intention naman talaga (really) is not to actually show force. It’s a way of preventing them from going outside,” Cimatu said.
Reports said some 2,000 uniformed personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and a 33-man medical team from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been deployed in Cebu City as augmentation forces to help and assist in the implementation and enforcement of health and safety protocols under ECQ. (With a report from Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz)