Strengthening our well being response in opposition to COVID-19 – Well being and Life-style
Senator Sonny Angara
Senator Sonny Angara has been in the civil service for 15 years – 9 years as a representative of the Lone District of Aurora and 6 years as a senator. He has written and sponsored more than 200 laws. He recently won another tenure in the Senate.
Email: [email protected] | Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara
As this goes online, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has already more than surpassed the 200,000 mark – just weeks after hitting the 100,000 mark earlier this month. More than 130,000 have recovered, yes, but there are still more than 61,000 active cases. Nor should it be underestimated that more than 3,000 Filipinos have died as a result of the virus. We clearly have much more to do to tackle this pandemic. It is for this reason that it is important that the Bayanihan to be restored as an act – or Bayanihan 2 that we sponsored and defended – is now awaiting the President’s signature.
The measure has a regular budget of up to 140 billion pesetas – of which 40.5 billion pesetas will be allocated to programs and expenditures used on the medical fronts that define our war against COVID-19.
For example, there are 6 million N95 face masks, 8.5 million dresses, 1 million headgear and 2 million coveralls to procure – three months’ worth of supplies for our healthcare professionals and those in need. As part of Bayanihan 2, the Ministry of Health will be provided with 3 billion pesetas for this purpose. Equipment such as PPE made in the Philippines will be preferred, subject to price and quality standards and through incentives and tax policies.
To help our Health Care Workers (HCWs), the frontline soldiers in this war, Bayanihan is providing Pesetas 13.5 billion for Continuous Employment of the Department of Health (DOH) and Human Resources for Health Care (HRH). These funds include hiring an additional 4,228 HRH employees and expanding the service to an additional 5,143. It also includes increased funding for the operation of DOH hospitals; the special risk provision for at least 89,551 public HCW; and the risk tax for 66,249 private HCWs. Due to concerns about the treatment of some HCWs, Bayanihan 2 is also providing them with room, transportation, and food. Mandatory tests for public and private HCWs are also performed every 15 days.
The measure also maintains the compensation provided for in Bayanihan 1 for HCW who have been infected with COVID-19 or who have died due to COVID-19. In addition, under Bayanihan 2, HCWs are also compensated, which are considered “mild” COVID-19 cases. The funds from Bayanihan 2 will be used to compensate around 5,171 infected and 44 deceased HCWs, as well as an estimated 9,000 who could become infected with COVID-19 from August to December.
Bayanihan 2 is also responding to the need for more quarantine facilities. The DOH will use pesetas 4.5 billion to build temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, and expand hospital capacity across the country. It will also include dormitories for frontliners, as well as support and funding for upgrading existing biosafety laboratories and capital expenditures for COVID-19-related medical and laboratory equipment. Another 4.5 billion pesetas will be used by the Civil Protection Office of the Ministry of Defense for the construction and maintenance of insulation systems. This includes hotel bills, food and transportation, which will be used for our COVID-19 response. The estimate assumes that we have up to 128,000 COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms and suspected cases. This realization that more facilities are needed also makes it a goal to increase bed capacity for COVID-19 cases – 20% for private hospitals and 30% for state hospitals.
In the meantime, Philhealth is directed to reimburse all funds due to county, provincial, and city hospitals. Government financial institutions are also being urged to prioritize their credit and line of credit hospitals and healthcare facilities that are experiencing cash flow or liquidity issues due to the pandemic.
The Department of Home Affairs and Local Government will allocate Pesetas 5 billion to hire at least 50,000 contact tracers and to create a national online electronic application system for contact tracing.
Finally, there will be a pesetas 10 billion standby fund with the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 testing and the procurement of drugs and possible vaccines. We expect up to 4 million beneficiaries for testing.
Now we must act quickly and decisively if we are to recover faster from this pandemic. With the proper implementation of the Bayanihan 2 law, our country should be able to get back on its feet sooner rather than later.