Sunday, September 26, 2021

Ombion: Rectify retrogressive Covid crisis management


AFTER one and a half years, the Covid crisis response and management plan of the national government through NIATF obviously remain generally retrogressive, keeping the entire country in higher vulnerability and risks. That is the same for most LGUs.

I am not, however, dismissing the achievements made by national government units in charge of Covid crisis response and management and the tremendous efforts of most LGUs in containing the virus spread despite their perceptible ill-preparedness in dealing with a crisis they have never handled before.

I am not a medical expert, clear and period. But it is now obvious to many that medical science is just one aspect of crisis management. Other equally important considerations are economics or impact on the state of the nation and the quality of life of our people; politics or governance adaptability to pandemic crisis and the mindset of our leaders; and geodynamics or distinct peculiarities of our being archipelagic and specific locator in southeast Asia.

All this interplay in the process. Mishandling or giving more weight to one or two aspects could have a gross effect or even a debilitating impact on other aspects.

If we were to draw lessons from Covid crisis response and management, they are as follows;

Our almost 12 months of experience in lockdowns in varying intensity and scope have not eased Covid spread. They have only brought our national and local economies down on their knees, and have devastated families especially the majority poor in this country.

But provinces, HUCs, and towns that consistently enforced strictly minimum health protocols expanded health services, have a higher percentage of healthy food habits, and prevented huge gatherings of people, have made significant success in curving Covid surge per statistical reports of DOH and protocols enforcement units, and brought fresh air for local economic recovery and ease the sacrifices of our people especially the poor. This should have been the key approach right from the onset of the pandemic, not lockdowns.

Bacolod City, Himamaylan City, Silay City, Hinigaran, Binalbagan, Canlaon City, Isabela City, Toboso, Siaton, Bais and Pamplona in Oriental, and Cebu province in general, are among the few which have demonstrated exemplary Covid crisis responses and management, especially beginning this year.

Still, the NIATF must learn from the lessons of some LGUs especially those I’ve mentioned and thus must reassess its retrogressive response and management of the Covid crisis.

Covid and all its variants are not as deadly as hyped and mongered by DOH, NIATF, social media, and even some bloggers. Recovery rate to total cases averages 95-96%, proof that Covid is just among flu variants and therefore curable and preventable. From medical science logic, a variant or variants of a curable, treatable, preventable virus, has the same characteristics as its parent. Even initial surge cases of Delta variant are the same, curable and preventable, with extra care for mostly seniors and Covid patients with chronic and complicated ailments like diabetics, hypertension, kidney and lung problems, among others.

I agree and support Bicol governor Salceda and few other medical scientists and experts that this whole thing of Covid crisis should be addressed with sober and scientific minds and attitudes, and that the people should be well informed, not just given half-truths and generalizations, and bombarded with fear and terror.

I also agree and fully support their proposals to stop lockdowns and all forms of public ban, and instead, expand medical services and facilities, provide healthy food and supplements to poor households, enforce strictly health protocols in all levels, up to workplaces including contact tracing, and perking-beefing up the pandemic adaptive local economy institutions and activities.

Bacolod City government in particular has learned hard from its experience, taking piano lessons well, identifying the different aspects of the crisis, and addressing each appropriately and accordingly, without causing disharmony and cacophony.

Thus, it is heartwarming that Bacolod gets numerous appreciation from NIATF itself and various agencies and institutions for keeping pandemic-adaptive governance while meeting other needs and concerns of the city.

From the lessons of Bacolod and some LGUs, it is clear that good crisis response and management is an exercise well of powers and discretion, in identifying the threats to the LGU and its stakeholders in order to respond effectively to the threats. But due to the unpredictability and fluidity of global players in this pandemic, the LGU must also attempt to identify other potential crises before they occur in order to sketch out plans to deal with them and lessen the vulnerability of its people.

Not the least, in a crisis situation, discretions that matter include speed, practicability, doability, and reliability of responses; planning the right messages, medium and the right time to the citizens and stakeholders so as to galvanize their support, and cast away fear, panic, and flightism. Carry out other vital support systems such as relief assistance and sustainable preparedness, incident reporting and resolution, plans for convergence of actions at one single alert signal, and use of IT systems for effective communication, coordination, synchronization of actions, responses, and feedbacks.

This is not a critique article, but humble and honest feedback to the concerned government units and citizens circles. All for our survival and resiliency.

Just a perspective.


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