A public health expert has called on government to enhance contact tracing and surveillance to improve the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Do not think that the solution for COVID-19 is at hand. COVID-19 is here to stay, similar to measles, to polio that have been around for a long time, even with available vaccines, we still encounter outbreaks here and there,” said Dr. Jun Belizario, dean of the UP Manila College of Public Health, in a recent press briefing.
On Monday, the country's tally of COVID-19 cases breached the 46,000 mark after the Department of Health reported 2,099 more infections – 1,258 “fresh” and 841 reported “late” – bringing the total to 46,333.
Belizario said the private sector plays a key role to easing the quarantine protocols further by helping teach behavior modification to both employees and customers.
Private firms, he added, can work woth the DOH and the UP-CPH for technical and logistic support for policy development and formulating response.
“The private sector is also one that we need to listen to. So many from the private sector have the expertise and the means to complement government efforts. We have many communication experts from this sector who can have more effective ways of delivering health messages," he said.
"This partnership of government and private sector must be sustained in the interest of the public’s health," Belizario added.
He also underscored the importance for science- and evidence-based policy and action from the government.
Aside from physical restrictions, the DOH, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and the National Task Force for COVID-19 must implement more public health education and engagement that would create the right mindset and attitudes toward “living with the virus."
"The response needs to be directed by data and evidence from surveillance systems," Belizario said.
“People need guidance not just on public health measures but also on how to live within the new normal because COVID-19 is here to stay,” added Buenalyn Ramos-Mortel, Associate Professor in Health Promotion and Education at UP-CPH.