Agree or disagree? NGO says efficient LGU vaccinations eliminate need to sacrifice Nayong Pilipino

Published May 19, 2021, 1:05 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

What’s the need for a mega vaccination facility if local government units (LGUs) are already carrying out high volume inoculations against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)?

Healthcare Without Harm Southeast Asia Executive Director Ramon San Pascual (Screengrab from Facebook Live)

This was essentially the question left by Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia (HCWH-SEA) Executive Director Ramon San Pascual to the attendees of the virtual launch of the #SaveNayongPilipino on Wednesday, May 19.

The launch, which was presided over by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) National Coordinator Leon Dulce, assembled several pro-environment groups that have been opposing the construction of the proposed mega vaccination center at the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF)-owned property in Parañaque City.

“Kahapon nag-report ang city of Manila (Yesterday, the city of Manila reported) that they’re able to provide 16,000 inoculations in a day…and they’re able to do it across their different sites within the city. What makes it doable? One, the availability of the vaccines and second, the efficiency and full attendance of the city itself [on] mass vaccination,” San Pascual said.

The mega vaccination center that’s supposed to rise on NPF’s 8.5-hectare urban forest is expected to be able to vaccinate 10,000 to 12,000 people daily.

“Kaya naman po ng gawin yun at the LGU level na hindi ito kailangang gumawa ng mega facility. Ang mangyayari niyan, naka-decentralize (This is achievable at the local level without the use of a mega facility. It will be carried out in a decentralized fashion),” he said.

San Pascual went as far to say that the supposed need for a mega facility in the country’s inoculation efforts against COVID-19 is a “myth” and a “huge lie in itself”.

“Because one, we don’t have really available vaccine anyway. It is being managed and disposed of or administered by the LGUs,” he claimed.

But the non-government organization (NGO) leader acknowledged that COVID-19 remains “a serious public health crisis and a continuing threat that require epidemiological intervention.” It’s just that, according to him, sacrificing the NPF property for the proposed temporary vaccination hub isn’t worth it, considering that there are very few green spaces left in Metro Manila.

San Pascual said green spaces “improve air quality, and this is why we need to preserve [them]”.

“Recent research in Harvard shows that people who live in places with poor air quality are more likely to die from COVID-19 even [when taking into account] other factors that may influence [the cause of death] such as pre-existing medical conditions, socio-economic status and access to healthcare,” he said.

He further explained that “urban green space is a component of green infrastructure. Mayroon health component lagi kung bakit tayo naglalagay ng green space (There’s a heatlh component as to why we put up a green space). It is an important part of public health.” Referring to the NPF property, San Pascual stressed: “Kailangan nating i-preserve yan para labanan ang pandemic na pwedeng umulit nang umulit lalo na kung patuloy nating puputulin ang mga puno at sisikilin ang green spaces (We need to preserve it in order to fight pandemics that may happen again and again, and especially if we keep cutting trees and reduce green spaces).”