QUEZON CITY, Aug. 5 (PIA) -- With Metro Manila, Rizal, Bulacan, Laguna and Cavite back under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), the Department of Health is grateful that the President heeded the call of health workers for a 'time out' even as the country continues to fight against COVID-19.
"I think it's very clear to us, that the President heard the pleas of our healthcare workers, and we are very grateful with that decision," Department of Health Director Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho said this during the 11th Leading Forward Presidential Communications - Philippine Information Agency Virtual Townhall Meeting held on August 3.
Dr. Ho explained that the healthcare workers are the country's precious resources and it is important for them to be okay, while taking care of the people. Ho said that what we need to understand is that the healthcare workers are humans, too, and that the stress that they are going through are not quantifiable.
Dr. Ho added that the Department recognizes the amount of sacrifice and stress that our healthcare workers endure on a day to day basis, stressing that "without our frontliners, the fight won't even be possible."
In line with this, the DOH has issued a Department Memorandum (DM) on the Interim Guidelines on the implementation of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response.
"In this guideline, the psychosocial wellbeing of the frontliners are promoted. Through this, we hope to alleviate the pressure and burden felt by our frontliners," she said.
Ho clarified, however, that this doesn't mean that the healthcare workers will not work anymore. "Healthcare workers will just get some rest because they also need to be in quarantine every two weeks to ensure their safety," Ho said.
In fact, the Dr. Ho added that DOH has recently started a substitution initiative to allow the country's healthcare workers to recuperate. The substitution or Team B which will stand in for the current healthcare workers will come from the newly recruited healthcare workers from the provinces.
Currently, the Department is expediting the hiring process for priority areas such as the National Capital Region (NCR), Region 4a, Cebu and Region 3.
The DOH is calling for more healthcare workers and is appealing to returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) that are healthcare workers, universities, medical societies, and provinces to augment the human resources for health program (HRHP), while ensuring that an adequate pool of healthcare workers needed in a specific region are maintained.
Meanwhile, Ho is assuring everyone that the government is continuously allocating enough resources to manage the pandemic.
Other than the substitution of healthcare workers, the Department is also looking into the implementation of the COVID-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team. This active case finding will target high risk communities and those without sufficient capabilities.
"Through this, the DOH will be implementing the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate protocols," Dr. Ho said.
Moreover, the Department is closely working with the medical societies for a joint output on the revitalized and recalibrated strategy against COVID-19. Dr. Ho said that the new set of guidelines will be released before the end of the week.
The reversion to MECQ was a result of the pleas from various medical groups asking the government to revert back Metro Manila's classification from GCQ to ECQ to give the healthcare workers their much needed respite as the cases of COVID-19 in the continues to rise; as well as to refine the country's pandemic control strategies.
The healthcare workers also appealed for the 2-weeks stricter movement restriction so that the government could address the following: healthcare workforce deficiency, failure of case finding and isolation, failure of contact tracing and quarantine, transportation safety, workplace safety public compliance. (VQR/PIA-IDPD).