With budget constraints hampering the government’s contact tracing efforts, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said requested Congress for an additional P6.6 billion budget for the 2022 hiring of 25,000 coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) contact tracers.
“We requested already Congress to add to our 2022 budget to cover the salaries of DILG CTs (contact tracers),’’ Malaya said.
Health experts maintained that the best way to combat COVID-19 is to have an improved contract tracing scheme complementary to the mass vaccination program.
Earlier, the DILG urged all local government units (LGUs) to hire at least one contact tracer per barangay “with population not exceeding 5,000’’ to enhance the case findings and contact tracing efforts with the pilot enforcement of the Alert Level System in Metro Manila.
“We want to be more aggressive in our case finding and contact tracing efforts considering the fast spread of the (coronavirus disease-2019 or COVID-19) Delta variant. Dahil dito, importante na mayroon ng karagdagang contact tracer sa bawat barangay para mapabilis ang pagtutunton at maalalayan ang mga positive cases at close contacts (Because of this, it is important to have additional contact tracers in each barangay to expedite and assist positive cases and close contacts),’’ said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Año clarified that the barangay contact tracer should be on top of the contract tracers provided by the LGUs adding “that the DILG is prepared to conduct training for the additional barangay contact tracers through the Local Government Academy (LGA) or the Department of Health (DOH).’’
“Mainam na ang contact tracer ay magmula sa miyembro ng BHERT (Barangay Health Emergency Response Team) ng barangay dahil inaasahan na sila ay nakadalo sa mga angkop na pagsasanay at kilala nila ang mga tao sa kanilang lugar (It is better if the contact tracer comes from BHERT of the barangay since they are expected to have attended appropriate exercises and they know the people in their places),” he added.
In barangays with populations exceeding 5,000, Año noted that more contact tracers may be hired or assigned by the LGUs to ensure that there are people on the ground who are monitoring COVID-19 cases and their contacts. (Chito A. Chavez)