The deployment of additional doctors in Cebu City, the new epicenter of coronavirus infection, should be done on a voluntary basis, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Wednesday.
Robredo said that medical frontliners should also be given higher incentives that will convince them to work in Cebu City, whose COVID-19 cases continue to grow.
“Dapat sana mas voluntary iyong pagpunta saka may offer ng additional benefits kasi sakripisyo ito para sa kanila. (It must be voluntary when they go there and has additional benefits because it’s a sacrifice for them),” she said over local radio station DYHP RMN Cebu.
The vice president was asked to comment on the Department of Health’s (DOH) order to reassign rural physicians in the Doctors to the Barrios program to private hospitals in Cebu City.
The deployment of more doctors is meant to augment the city’s response efforts as COVID-19 overwhelms its health care system.
However, many of them have objections on the directive, saying they were not consulted on their reassignments and they lacked familiarity with COVID-19 situation in Cebu, among other reasons.
Robredo cited government efforts in other places like New York City in America where medical workers are being afforded higher compensation to entice them amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Ang daming pumunta na nurses, ang daming pumunta na doctors, dahil siguro iyong pakiramdam nila iyong taas ng benefits commensurate sa risks na haharapin nila (Several nurses and doctor went there, because they probably felt the good benefits would commensurate the risks they would be facing),” she said.
Robredo raised the issue of low salaries of health workers is among the “defects uncovered by COVID-19 that need to fixed” in the country’s public health framework.