Sen. Grace Poe has urged the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to intensify its contact tracing efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19, reminding the agency it will have a P5-billion fresh funding under the ratified Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
Poe, who is among the senators who pushed for the funding under the Bayanihan 2 bill, said she believes local government units (LGUs) are more familiar with their constituents and would know how to locate persons who have been in close contact with a virus carrier.
Thus, she said, the DILG may tap barangay health workers, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) beneficiaries, or persons who have been out of jobs as contact tracers in the community.
“Lahat 'yan ang magdedesisyon ay ang DILG, kasama ang mga local government, (All those issues can be decided upon by the DILG, together with the local government),” Poe said in a radio interview.
“Unang-una, nakapagbigay ka na ng trabaho. Pangalawa, natutunton pa kung sinu-sino ang mga nagkaroon ng COVID para ma-isolate sila at hindi na makahawa (Foremost, is you can provide work. Second, you are able to find out who are the persons who got COVID so they can isolate and prevent spreading the disease to others),” she said.
The senator said she expects the DILG to carry out the task effectively and regularly make a report to Congress on how it spends its budget for contact-tracing, unlike the Department of Health (DoH) which had been slow in its contact-tracing efforts at the outset.
“Alam naman natin ang naging isyu ng DoH. Ang daming mga naging problema, meron silang P200 bilyon na hindi man lang nila nagagamit o naipapamahagi tapos ang pera na ginamit pa nila hindi naman napunta sa tamang sitwasyon. So nag-isip kami sinong gagawa ng contact tracing (We all know the issue about the DoH. They’ve been hounded with so many problems, and they have P200-billion budget that they didn’t use wisely. So we thought of other agencies that can conduct contact-tracing),” explained Poe.
Poe said tracing COVID-19 positive patients would only be successful if the people trust public health officials, tell truthful information, and observe health protocols all the time.
She added contact tracing is an indispensable time-tested strategy and having an additional army of contact tracers will help the country achieve a significant patient-to-close contacts ratio to effectively curb the virus spread.
“Importante talaga ang contact-tracing at importante dito ay siyempre meron kayong kakayanan na gawin ‘yan, na meron kayong tauhan na gagawa niyan (contact-tracing is really an important strategy here and of course, the DILG is capable of doing that, that they have the people to carry out this protocol),” Poe said.