Sad but solvable ‘war-zone’ hospital situation in NCR+ on World Health Day: Pangilinan

April 7, 2021

SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan will call for assistance of the international community to help stop and turn around the upsurge in Covid-19 cases in the country at the worldwide Liberal Party Presidents’ meeting tonight.

“War zone na mga ospital natin. Pila-pila ang mga ambulansya ng mga maysakit sa labas ng ospital. Merong mga namamatay sa parking lot. Nagkakasakit ang mga medical front-liners natin. Kailangan na natin ng tulong (Our hospitals are practically war zones. Ambulances of sick people are lining up outside hospitals. People are dying in hospital parking lots. Our medical front-liners are getting sick. We need help),” Pangilinan said.

“World Health Day ngayon. Sana ang tunay na celebration ng araw na ito ay maayos na pagkontrol sa virus at agarang paggamot sa na-infect (Today is World Health Day. A true celebration of this day would have been the control of the virus spread and the quick treatment and recovery of those who have been infected),” he said.

The goal of the World Health Day 2021 is to build a fairer, healthier world for everyone, reducing health inequity in face of the Covid-19 pandemic that hit vulnerable populations hard.

Health inequity includes access to vaccines that have proved challenging for poorer nations as bulk of the vaccine supply were earlier reserved by the world’s richest countries.

Five Liberal Party Presidents from Liberal International, African Liberal Network, Arab Liberal Federation, Red Liberal de America Latina, and Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, which Pangilinan chairs, will meet for the first time this year tonight. April 7, World Health Day, was deliberately selected for the meeting.

Main agenda of the meeting is to adopt a political readout in support of greater equality distribution in the global fight against Covid.

“The international community can begin by calling on wealthy nations not to hoard vaccines. We must ensure that vaccines can be easily accessed by everyone who needs the boost in their healthcare system that has been severely incapacitated by Covid. Protecting our healthcare workers and vulnerable population is crucial,” Pangilinan said.

In Metro Manila and nearby provinces, public and private hospitals are swamped with Covid patients, many with dozens of patients on queue and running at critical capacity. On Tuesday, the Department of Health (DOH) said 82 percent of the intensive care unit (ICU) beds for Covid patients in Metro Manila were already being used, along with 71 percent of isolation beds, 60 percent of ward beds, and 63 percent of ventilators.

The government’s Lung Center of the Philippines has started turning away Covid walk-in patients as its emergency room already operates at twice its capacity and its wards packed with cases of the severe respiratory disease; the Philippine Orthopedic Center has shut down due to Covid infections among over half of its hospital staff.

“In particular, humihingi tayo ng tulong sa mga kaibigan nating bansa para matulungan tayong makakuha ng mga tent hospital, hospital bed, ventilator, at Covid vaccines. Kailangan natin ng di bababa sa 140 million doses para ma-achieve ang herd immunity (We are asking our allies to help us secure supplies for tent hospitals, equipment, and Covid-19 vaccines. We need at least 140 million doses to achieve herd immunity),” he said.

According to the DOH vaccine statistics as of March 30, the Philippines has received a total of 2,525,600 doses of vaccines, broken down as follows:  525,600 doses of Astra Zeneca, and 2,000,000 doses of China’s Sinovac.

Pangilinan also asked for international help in possible local vaccine production and testing, given logistics and massive cooling requirements of the vaccines.

“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa European Union sa tulong ng ating bagong EU Ambassador na si Luc Veron para sa 130-million-peso three-year grant para mapondohan ang pandemic preparedness and response ng Pilipinas. Baka pwede rin natin silang hingan ng tulong na mag-invest ang mga European pharma companies dito, lalo na sa paggawa ng bakuna locally (We thank the European Union through the help of our new EU Ambassador Luc Veron for the 130-million-peso three-year grant to find pandemic preparedness and response in the Philippines. A new request would be to seek investments from European pharmas, particularly on local vaccine production),” he said.

The Philippines has been lagging in its Covid response, experience the biggest surges in Covid cases, failing to do free mass testing and tracing despite having one of the longest and strictest lockdowns, and recording 812,760 total cases and 13,817 deaths as of April 6, 2021.