BACOLOD

Ombion: Good governance, not ECQ (Part 2)

Perspective

I AGREE with the proposal of some Bacolod-based doctors that medical solution is the key to defeat Covid. What else can resolve a medical problem but also a medical action. No fuss, no muss.

The doctors, however, proposed to place the entire city again under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to stop Covid spread. To me, it is illogical and inconsistent with their good intention because the medical solution is not synonymous, nor equally the same, as with ECQ.

The medical solution is to attack Covid organically and biologically, to stop it from reproducing and transmitting from source to others.

As such it could take the forms of swab testing or rapid testing, laboratory analytics of results, wearing of facemask and other personal protective equipment (PPEs), thermal scanning, hand washing and sanitizing, and other health protocols set by national Inter-Agency Task Force.

Of course, the most decisive is researching, developing and manufacturing of the vaccine against Covid.

ECQ is a socio-political action that uses government authority and power to prevent people from open and mass interactions because it is said to be the best environment for Covid to spread. Yes, prevent human transmission, deprive Covid of opportunity in time and space to transmit.

ECQ could take the forms of general or particular lockdown, setting up checkpoints, imposing of curfew hours, enforcement of health protocols in public, monitoring and tracking of people potential of Covid infections.

Bacolod imposed the ECQ for two months, where citizens' movements were stopped or minimized. As a result, Covid cases practically were nil or insignificant. In this regard, the government has exercised where it is best because of its authority and security and enforcement powers.

The city also tried its best in the field of medical solutions. Obviously, it was short, and many times, frustrating especially with lack of anti-Covid facilities, minimal swab and rapid testing, delayed testing results, lack of PPEs for its public doctors and nurses, and worst, lack of doctors, nurses and health workers. I called this bad governance and poor medical solutions for Covid management.

In fact, the local government is also to be blamed for all the mess in the distribution of SAP and other relief support for the affected citizens because a few barangay officials were making money again and again and this time out of the Covid crisis.

But the city cannot be blamed entirely for this. They did, or have been doing their best despite all the limitations and unpreparedness.

The bigger problem emanates from national IATF and concerned agencies especially Department of Health for poor strategies, changing plans, indecisiveness, delayed results of tests, bureaucratic moves, giving orders left and right, all hot air talks but lack of ground actions, lack of funds, or shall we say, misuse of funds.

Two months of ECQ, one month of general community quarantine, and another month of modified general community quarantine are too much for the majority poor, the marginalized and the local economy. These quarantine measures have brought us all countless lessons, but the lesson that brought us greatest pain is imprisoning people, making them hungry and wanting, because the entire health system is unprepared, while the private hospitals have been exposed for their bias against the poor who are often the victims of calamities, and now of the Covid pandemic.

As I said if there is anything to improve this time it is local governance, which includes better medical solutions or simply Covid management.

I agree with many that the priority now is rebuilding the local economy, reinvigorating local businesses, and helping people help themselves to overcome the crisis. At the same time, pay more attention to improving medical solutions.

Can good governance be entrusted to local officials and their huge bureaucratic structures? Apparently, not. This is why, I keep on urging both local government officials and the organized citizens to work on participatory governance, or together work for the efficient and effective solutions to the crisis caused by Covid.

But the bigger challenge for the government is what to do with private capitalist hospitals who despite their best technologies, still cater mostly to the rich and the elites, and often make money out of calamities and the poor.

If they have measures now on erring and exploitative businesses, the local government units should press on measures to discipline and reorient these big private hospitals, and if they don't, then use the strong and best long arm of the law.


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