Binay to DOH, IATF: ‘Protect health workers against Delta, other COVID-19 variant'

Published June 21, 2021, 11:23 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Nancy Binay on Monday, June 21 urged the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to put in place mechanisms that would protect the country’s health care workers (HCWs) from acquiring the Delta variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease to abate a collapse of the Philippine healthcare support system.

Binay made the appeal amid reports that more than 350 doctors and medical workers in Indonesia acquired the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 despite already been fully vaccinated.

“I believe we have to prepare for the possibility of our fully vaccinated healthcare workers acquiring Covid and its new variants, especially since infections are contracted in the workplace because of the high viral load,” Binay said in a statement.

“For now, let’s find practical ways to protect them because if the cases reach high numbers, aside from lacking manpower, there’s a possibility our healthworkers would also be infected and our healthcare support system may again be overburdened or possibly collapse,” Binay said.

The senator said it is imperative for the government to plan ahead to protect healthcare workers at any cost in case they be exposed to new infections.

She also said the DOH and the IATF should come up with a comprehensive approach that would involve a full hierarchy of infection prevention controls as well as systematic collection of data on health worker infections.

Binay also said that while the booster shots are still pending, DOH should already set up a system to ensure that fully-vaccinated HCWs who still acquire COVID-19 and need hospitalization get full support from government.

“Vaccine firms disclosed that third dose boosters that would increase antibody response are currently being developed. We would want the DOH to give a full commitment and specific action to better protect our essential workforce,” she stressed.

“I hope it doesn’t happen, but we need to put in place mechanisms on what to do, in case a similar scenario in Indonesia happens here,” she noted.

The World Health Organization (WHO) maintained that health workers are essential in the fight against COVID, but are at disproportionate risk of contracting infections as well as experiencing adverse mental health impacts, she pointed out.

“We are now experiencing pandemic fatigue, and people have become less vigilant. But our health workers are the ones that will suffer if hospitals themselves collapse,” she lamented.

“Not only workplace safety issues put healthworkers at risk—the government’s lack of support puts the patients, and the entire health system are also at risk,” Binay warned.