CHR reminds gov't: Use Bayanihan 2 to help health workers or risk collapse
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has urged the government to use the funds allocated by the Bayanihan To Recover as One Act to aid health workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, to avoid a collapse of the country’s health system.
CHR explained in a statement on Tuesday, September 15 which is also the Philippine Medicine Day, that the country’s public health sector has had their hands full since the disease reached the country, and measures must be placed to protect them.
“With the recent passage of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, we welcome provisions that heed the plea of our healthcare workers including the expansion of government hospital capacity, additional isolation and quarantine facilities, adequate supply of protective equipment, among others,” CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.
And if a collapse happens, the commission believes poor Filipinos stand to lose more as most of them rely on public health facilities.
“The Commission reiterates that the health sector cannot hold the line for much longer if no adequate and responsive measures will alleviate the challenging situation of our health care workers,” De Guia noted.
“If the health system collapses, it is ultimately the poor and the vulnerable who are most compromised. In the end, winning the fight against COVID-19 relies heavily on being able to capacitate our best assets in addressing the medical needs of all Filipinos,” she added.
Republic Act No. 11494 commonly called Bayanihan 2, is the precursor of R.A. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act. If the first Bayanihan law allowed President Rodrigo Duterte to reprogram and realign items in the 2020 budget to fund the pandemic response, Bayanihan 2’s role is to provide a stimulus package worth P165 billion.
The biggest share in Bayanihan two will be allocated for loans that micro, small and medium-scale enterprises, transport, tourism and agricultural businesses may avail.
It also has set aside funding for health-related responses like the retroactive payment of the P100,000 hazard duty pay for health workers, employment of existing emergency health workers, and the risk allowance of public and private health workers attending to COVID-19 patients.
CHR says that the country and the government has to support frontliners and health workers if it wants to succeed in solving the health crisis, as healthcare systems have been pushed way past its limit.
“The current pandemic has put the country’s health system under pressure and stretched its capacity beyond what it can truly sustain. Like in other societies, COVID-19 has exposed the critical gaps in healthcare services which can have a long-term impact on the overall health and well-being of the population if left unaddressed and disregarded,” De Guia said.
“The Commission recognizes the immense contribution of our health workers who are truly the backbone of our healthcare system. In order to realize the highest possible standard of health, we need to stand behind them and demand for greater and strategic investment in frontline health workers in fighting coronavirus,” she added.
The latest figures from the Department of Health showed that there are 8,573 health workers who tested positive for the latest coronavirus strain, although 93.1 percent or 7,980 patients have already recovered.
There are 537 remaining active cases while 56 have succumbed to the disease.
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