Senator Nancy Binay on Wednesday said government has yet to designate a point-person who will be responsible for sourcing, coordination, acquisition, consolidation, development and distribution of medical supplies necessary to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Isang buwan na ang lockdown, but no government unit is accountable or anyone from IATF is in-charge of medical logistics. Matagal nang dapat may tao who will make sure that testing kits, PPEs, swabs, face masks, ventilators, beds, linens, all the medical components and the right equipment needed in fighting Covid are continuously sourced, provided and deployed to where they need to be. What we need a long time ago is a cohesive response to the pandemic,” Binay pointed out.
Binay expressed her disappointment over the apparent lack of foresight in anticipating the required medical logistics, noting that the government’s failure to factor in the medical supply chain in the fight against COVID-19 has already exposed thousands of health workers to the deadly virus.
“Di katanggap-tanggap na isang buwan na tayong ganito, wala pa rin tayong idea, or projections man lang, kung ilang ventilators ang kakailanganin natin pag dumating sa peak ang confirmed Covid patients. Ilang cot beds, PPEs, surgical gowns, face masks, body bags, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies ang kailangan ng bawat ospital o quarantine facility sa kada araw?” she said.
Based on accounts shared by medical workers in the frontlines, the failure to survey the needs of public and private hospitals has raised alarms about shortages of supplies, personnel and government support at nearly every stage of the COVID-19 treatment process.
“Doctors, nurses and health workers are ready to sacrifice and serve, leave their families behind, and risk their lives during this public health emergency. But government must also show that it truly cares–not by asking them to die for the country–but to provide them with life-saving resources necessary to allow them to save lives of thousands more,” Binay noted.
As COVID-19 case numbers rise by the day, doctors, nurses and other personnel in both front and back lines have also been exposed to infection thereby hampering hospitals’ ability to operate effectively in the midst of crisis.
“We lack the aggressiveness to act on time. January pa lang, the DOH said it was on top of the situation and has a P2.25 billion and P10 million budget ready to be released to purchase PPEs and masks for our 5,000 health workers? Four months na, anyare po? Protecting the health of our people, and maintaining our readiness to supporting the public health system should have been the first in the agenda. Up and down the line, government has to ensure the public that its priorities are met,” Binay pointed out.
The senator added, having someone directly in-charge of logistics will ensure that medical supplies, equipment and components are timely moved, distributed, and sustained throughout the period of the public health emergency.
“Even on a smaller scale, I hope we can learn from the US’ ‘design response’ and logistical system of its Strategic National Stockpile to deal with disasters and pandemics. Pag kulang tayo sa preparedness, at kapos tayo sa response–we risk leaving many families without any food; those in the frontlines without life-saving tools; and the poor destined to suffer the most,” Binay added./Stacy Ang