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Healthcare workers lament their conditions amidst the pandemic

By Jose Oscar Magpusao

Members of the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) were overcome with emotion after reflecting on the hardships of healthcare workers in the frontline amidst the continuous surge of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines during a press conference held on Friday.

They lamented the overworked and underappreciated state of healthcare workers all over the country and the countless Filipinos falling ill to the virus, some of whom they unfortunately had to turn away since many hospitals lacked the resources to accommodate them, and stressed the need for stronger systems to combat COVID-19.

”Nangyayari na ang matagal nating kinatatakutan at iniiwasan. Hindi na kayang tugunan ng ating healthcare system ang mga kaso ng COVID-19,” HPAAC Co-convenor and Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) President Dr. Maria Encarnita Limpin said.

“Nagdudugo po ang aming mga puso and humihingi kami ng patawad sa mga pasyenteng kinailangang tanggihan dahil hindi na kayang iadmit sa ospital,” she added.

She said that many healthcare workers had already been infected with the virus, risking not only their lives, but the lives of their loved ones as well. Regardless, she remained steadfast and said that despite everything, “gagawin namin ang lahat matulungan ang sinumang mangangailangan ng healthcare hanggat kaya ng aming katawan, ng aming isip at ng aming puso.”

“Kung magkakulang man kami ng kakayahan, humihingi kami ng pangunawa sainyong lahat,” she added.

“Ang sitwasyon natin ay hindi po aayos at ineexpect po naming this will get worse. Titindi pa po ang pandemya. Nauunahan nang pagdami ng kaso ang paglaki ng kapasidad ng sistema. Proteksyonan natin ang ating mga sarili at ang ating mga minamahal sa buhay,” she added.

She further advised people to not underestimate any symptoms they may exhibit, regardless of its supposed insignificance, and asked people to self isolate and seek the help of their local barangay or primary care providers to help stop the spread of the virus.

Aileen Espina of the HPAAC then addressed the government, remarking on the inadequacy of the action taken to control the pandemic and the data presented regarding the pandemic does not accurately represent the situation of communities and hospitals throughout the country.

“Hindi po kami tumigil sa paggawa, pagtrabaho at sa pagaalaga sa ating mga pasyente.hindi rin kami tumigil sa pakikipagusap upang mapabilis ang mga proseso ng polisiya at pagaksyon mula sa iba’t-ibang sangay ng gobyerno. Subalit, mahigit isang taon na. Nasaan na ang mga solusyon aming isinulong?” she said.

Espina stressed the need for contact tracing efforts to be digitized, connected and interoperable, as well as tightening the relationship between local governments and hospitals into singular hospital command centers to better curb the spread of the virus.

She mentioned that these improvements to the pandemic response have been strongly recommended by healthcare professionals since the past, stating that they already have access to experts and the technology necessary to implement these changes.

“Ang kulang ay political will at compass mula sa ating mga namumuno,” she said.

HPAAC Lead Convenor and a representative of the Asia Pacific Center For Evidence Based Medicine Antonio Dans became emotional during his address, stating that the capabilities of the healthcare system in the Philippines had been overwhelmed but echoed limpin by saying that they will not give up the fight so long as “kaya ng katawan, ng isip at ng puso.”

He asked for the help of the national and local governments to strengthen their COVID-19 response and pleaded for them to help and protect the workers of the nation as they are the ones keeping the economy intact.

Dans then turned to the public, imploring them to adhere to the protocols laid out by the government and avoid leaving their houses and cramped spaces as much as possible or use sufficient protection when left with no other option.

He commended FIlipinos who were able to get vaccinated, as well as those who sought to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, recognizing them as their drive to continue their fight against the pandemic.

“Dahil sainyo, tumitibay ang aming paniniwala na kung magtutulungan tayo, kaya nating labanan ang pandemyang ito,” he said.

“Sa aming kapwa healthcare workers, hugot tayo ng lakas sa ating pagkakaisa para maitawid natin itong pandemya ng magkakasama. Manalig tayo sa kakayahan ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.

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