Senate Committee on Health and Demography Chair Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go assured the medical community that the government heard their concerns as the country continues to grapple with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Go made the assurance after attending a virtual meeting with key Cabinet officials led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, representatives from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), and the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 on Saturday night.
Medialdea and other select Cabinet members discussed the recommendations to President Rodrigo Duterte to address the concerns of the medical community.
“Sila po ang mga bayani sa laban na ito. Tulungan natin sila at huwag na pahirapan pa. Lahat po ng serbisyo na pwedeng ibigay sa ating health workers, ibigay na po natin agad sa lalong madaling panahon (They [healthcare workers] are our heroes in this fight [against Covid-19]. Let us help them and not make life difficult for them. All kinds of services that we can give to our health workers, extend to them immediately),” Go stressed.
He reminded government officials to always deliver what they have promised to the Filipinos particularly the medical front-liners.
Go said he is studying the possibility of providing financial assistance and additional benefits such as life insurance coverage for private sector healthcare workers (HCWs) who are assigned to handle Covid-19 cases.
He cited that while public sector HCWs are provided better compensation and benefits by the government, those in the private sector more often are not provided the same.
“Kakausapin ko po si Pangulong Duterte, ang ating finance managers at ibang mga mambabatas kung pwedeng maisali pa sa Bayanihan 2 bill ang probisyon na magbibigay dagdag benepisyo sa healthcare workers, sa pribado man o publikong sector. O baka pwedeng magawan ng paraan sa Executive branch na lang (I will talk with President Duterte, our finance managers and other lawmakers if we can still include in Bayanihan 2 bill provisions that give additional benefits for healthcare workers both in private and public sectors. Or at the Executive branch through a directive from the President,” Go said.
He explained that benefits for all healthcare workers can be funded by recommending its inclusion in the Bayanihan to Recover as One Bill that is still pending in Congress, or if possible, through a Presidential directive.
Go is also appealing to concerned agencies to provide accommodation and transportation assistance and to issue Work and Quarantine Passes to on-duty HCWs so they can conveniently report to work. He added that free and frequent Covid-19 testing must also be made available to them.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go vowed that he will continue to push for the enactment of measures that can further protect and promote the welfare of the whole medical community.
Among the bills he filed are Senate Bill 1226 or the proposed Department of Health (DOH) Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act, which aims to authorize DOH to increase bed capacity and service capability of its retained hospitals; SB 1451, also known as the Medical Reserve Corps Act of 2020 to augment the health workforce; and SB 395 or the Advanced Nursing Education Act of 2019 to enhance nursing programs.
In order to immediately ease the burden of the medical community, Go urged the government to hire additional HCWs to augment the current workforce. He also suggested tapping HCWs from areas with fewer Covid-19 cases to help those in pandemic epicenters.
Go appealed to the public to show support and empathy to all front-liners saying that “they are sacrificing their own lives to save others. In our own way of showing our compassion and through our cooperation, we can save their lives as well.”
“Front-liners ang inaasahan natin ngayon dahil sila ang mas nakakaalam, kaya suportahan natin sila (We rely on our front-liners because they know better how to address the health crisis, so let’s support them),” Go added.