#’Unstoppable:’ Red Cross service shines during pandemic

Published May 10, 2021, 12:31 AM

by Manila Bulletin

Philippine Red Cross joined the celebration of World Red Cross Red Crescent Day last May 8 to honor the birth anniversary of Henry Dunant, the founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize.

IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.

The country is, indeed, well-served by the IFRC’s assistance in the amount of 4.9 million Swiss francs (equivalent to approximately P260 million) from its Global Emergency Appeal to support the Philippine Red Cross as it intensifies tracing, testing and treatment of people with COVID-19.

Fittingly, the theme of this year’s is #’Unstoppable,’ a word that aptly describes the Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, Senator Richard Gordon, whose infectious dynamism has animated thousands of volunteers in rendering cheerful service to communities afflicted by disasters and calamities.

Coronavirus infections have breached the million mark with a surge in new cases, placing emergency and critical care facilities under great pressure.  In response, the Red Cross is setting up field hospitals, quarantine facilities and scaling up existing testing laboratories, public information campaigns and relief activities.

Philippine Red Cross has just opened an emergency field hospital (EFH) with 18 tents at the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP). This will help LCP free bed spaces allowing admission of more severe cases in need of immediate hospital care. The field hospital is equipped with up to 100 beds with medical equipment such as oxygen tanks, electrocardiogram (ECG) machines, positive pressure ventilation (PPV) and intubation set, automated external defibrillator, and other basic ward facilities that will serve mild to moderate cases. The EFH is also equipped with air-conditioning units to ensure proper ventilation.

The PRC also established facilities in the Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines, De La Salle University College of Saint Benilde, and Adamson University to address the problem in the surge of COVID-19 cases by isolating asymptomatic spreaders in multi-generational households.

Gordon observed: “We are in a war situation against COVID-19. The health care system in the NCR plus region is totally challenged due to the increasing cases of COVID-positive individuals. The emergency field hospitals of the PRC will help serve more patients needing immediate health care.”

Recall that during the early onset of the pandemic, the Red Cross stepped in to augment the meager testing capability that was then focused only on the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and a few other authorized laboratories.

Last year, the Red Cross also figured prominently in assisting the thousands of displaced families affected by the strong eruption of Taal Volcano. When two strong typhoons, Rolly and Ulysses  (international names: Goni and Vamco) hit the Bicol region and Cagayan Valley, respectively, Red Cross volunteers were again at the forefront of disaster relief efforts.

Everywhere the Red Cross sign is visible, people are assured that the hard blows dealt by calamities and disasters will be softened by the caring support extended by volunteers who are imbued with the Filipino brand of malasakit, or compassionate care.