A CEBU Provincial Board (PB) member is urging the Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas to not just focus on its Covid-19 response but also in the implementation of other health programs targeting other illnesses common to the province.
In her proposed resolution, PB member Yolanda “Yoly” Daan urged the DOH to also prioritize the continuation of its health programs geared towards eradicating tuberculosis (TB), dengue fever, chikungunya and leptospirosis, among others, that have been set aside due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Daan’s resolution was discussed and enacted during the PB’s regular session on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.
Daan told reporters that she decided to pass the resolution after she noticed how much attention was given to Covid-19 while other illnesses were ignored.
She added that some of her constituents are now stigmatized to go to the hospital as they are often required to undergo a swab test for Covid-19 even though they were there for other purposes.
“It’s as if Covid-19 is the only illness that affects everyone. I have an aunt who recently died because of urinary tract infection but was required to be swabbed at the hospital just before admission since she was experiencing coughing. Even I am afraid of getting a cough because it might be construed as Covid-19,” Daan said.
In response, DOH 7 officials urged local government units (LGUs) in Cebu that aside from normalizing their Covid-19 response, they should also continue with the existing health programs.
Dr. Van Philip Baton, DOH 7 medical program coordinator for infectious diseases, said with Covid-19 ravaging Cebu and the rest of the country for more than a year now, LGUs need to also attend to other health concerns in their areas such as their regular immunization programs for children and preventing the spread of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Baton added that two months after the Covid-19 pandemic began, the DOH issued a memorandum in June 2020 to continue the basic health services and programs being implemented on the LGU level.
Baton is confident that LGU officials know how to effectively handle the Covid-19 situation after different strategies such as contact tracing, immediate isolation of positive patients and giving out of medicines and vitamins.
He added that LGUs now know better how to navigate their respective Covid-19 situations and suggested to allocate appropriate attention to both the pandemic and their other health concerns.
“We do understand that in terms of budgetary concerns, our LGUs are lacking when it comes to how they can prioritize between addressing Covid-19 and their other health concerns. But I think with how our LGUs are responding to Covid-19 for more than a year now, I think they can do both their pandemic response and their other health programs,” Baton said.
Dr. Eugenia Mercedes Cañal, who heads DOH’s Regional Epidemilogy and Surveillance Unit in Central Visayas, also admitted that their other health programs were set aside due to the ongoing pandemic.
She said since the pandemic began, infectious diseases such as TB and even non-infectious ones such as hypertension and diabetes have not been given much attention due to the ongoing Covid-19 response.
She hoped that LGUs will also take responsibility to prioritize other programs stressing that a lot of deaths have also occurred from other diseases. (MVE)