"Without a guaranteed safe and effective cure in sight, defensive measures are our best weapons."
For the past six months, we have seen the indubitable contribution and significance of our health care workers in the country’s battle against COVID-19. Our medical doctors, nurses, medical technologists, allied health professionals, and other health workers have been continuously serving and attending to countless patients, both COVID and non-COVID, in many of our hospitals and other health facilities nationwide. We have heard numerous stories of their experiences and sacrifices—enduring the heat and sweat inside sealed PPE suits for eight to 36 hours straight while bearing the risks in fulfilling their sworn duties to care for the sick. This has been going on since March. It's August, and the conditions have worsened.
Their unparalleled service and compassion are crucial in sustaining our fight against this pandemic despite the difficulties caused by prevailing circumstances. This crisis we face as a nation will not be won without them.
As they man the frontlines, it is only right that we must look after their welfare in return. The Executive has ordered the grant of special risk allowance and hazard pay to our public health care workers early into the Enhanced Community Quarantine. The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act has provided benefits for health care workers, especially those who lost their lives due to COVID. Other compensatory measures for health professionals are being pushed in the Legislative. The proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act includes more provisions to enhance health care services. Just recently, the Department of Budget and Management issued the much awaited and deserved salary upgrade for government nurses. Despite this small victory, many remain to be improved in terms of the rightful remuneration to our valiant health workers.
It’s time to bring the best care to our health care workers. I laud the efforts of the national government in enacting policies supporting the welfare of our health workers. While the intention of these policies are good, the government must also ensure that the government agencies and local government units are physically and financially capable to effectively implement said mandates for the improvement of our entire healthcare system.
Local governments have been responding to the calls for assistance of our local health institutions early on. The Provincial Government of Quezon granted a one-time risk allowance to our local public health employees and other forms of assistance during the enhanced community quarantine. While additional support is clearly still needed, local budgets have been outstretched insofar as COVID-related measures are concerned.
I ask the national government to supplement and reinforce LGU capability in order to competently and equitably deliver the mandated benefits and other provisions for health. We should maximize our resources to extend the necessary and sufficient assistance as much as we possibly can, especially to the critical areas of our health care—the personnel and the facilities. The frontlines should be strengthened.
There is no question that this national health crisis is multifaceted. However, the ultimate solution to defeat this disease is a robust health care system. As we cushion the economic and social impact of this crisis, the nation as a whole needs to keep in mind that supporting the health aspect is paramount to hold the line. With this, I urge the government to give all the help and support needed by our front liners. The people, on the other hand, should exercise discipline and make initiatives to protect one’s health. The road to recovery is a wide highway—we cannot move forward without clearing all the lanes, all aspects of society. We have to cooperate and be disciplined, at all times. Follow the protocols. Without a guaranteed safe and effective cure in sight, defensive measures are our best weapons. The healthcare professionals and frontliners need our strict compliance. For all that they have done, we owe them that.