Before COVID-19 even had a name, my husband already started looking for sources of protective gear and made sure we had what we needed, knowing that there would be a sudden rush for all of these items as more cases with coronavirus turned up. True enough we did experience a shortage and we are still struggling to make sure healthcare workers are getting the protection they need.
The basics include a mask and eye protection with goggles or a face shield. For high risk areas the much-coveted N95 mask, or a respirator, if you can find one. Then you have the water-repellent gown or bunny suit, a head cover, gloves, booties. When clinics slowly opened up again, we also had to outfit our secretaries, install acrylic shields for the tables, disinfectants, alcohol dispensers, foot sanitizing mats, air purifiers, thermal scanners, UV lights and sanitizing cabinets. And the list goes on…
In the beginning I wondered out loud if having all this protective gear was too much, to which my husband casually responded, “Ligtas ang praning.” And so the expression was born.
“Praning” may be a slang Filipino word for crazy or paranoid but in this context it means that taking all these even-more-than-extra precautions to keep ourselves and those around us safe is worth it and is not done in vain.
Several months ago we all felt an adrenaline rush as we dealt with a disease we have never seen before. That sense of urgency helped us get through long hours of wearing uncomfortable gear, deal with fear and anxiety, and handle the grief of losing beloved colleagues and patients. It is this same feeling that made people stay home and abide by the rules of quarantine.
But you can only keep this up for so long. It is almost 120 days since quarantine was implemented. This has been the most challenging and stressful experience of a lifetime for many, and as more time passes without clear answers, it is very easy to feel tired of it all. The exhaustion that one feels from this new restrictive lifestyle has been called quarantine fatigue.
As physicians we are constantly reminded of the ravages of COVID-19 in the patients that we see. But for those who have not been exposed to this reality and only see it on the news or through social media, it can be difficult to continue to stay at home and limit social interaction when you haven’t been personally affected by this disease.
Quarantine fatigue can present in many ways — irritability, loss of motivation, social withdrawal or irrational behavior. Some call it caution fatigue, where the urgency is lost and people no longer feel “praning,” becoming less careful when out on errands, are not as diligent in washing their hands, start sharing meals with co-workers or having larger get-togethers.
It may seem harmless — but it only takes ONE. One lapse, one party, one slip. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t get sick, or that you will get over your illness quickly. In the past 2 weeks I have seen 4 patients with ages ranging from 28 to 41 succumb to COVID-19. Too young to go. Just because the death rate is low doesn’t mean it can’t affect you or someone close to you. Is one moment worth a lifetime of sadness and regret?
When it all becomes too much, take a step back. Maybe a change of perspective can help. Yes, acknowledge how you feel — the fear, anxiety and and uncertainty. Forgive yourself for not exercising, cleaning up your closet, or trying the latest food delivery craze. Just surviving these past few months is already a feat.
Then focus on how your behavior impacts those around you. Moving the emphasis from yourself to helping others might make it easier to comply — you wear a mask and wash your hands not to protect yourself, but to prevent spreading the disease to others.
And then look forward. As much as we want to go “back to normal,” we know that we can’t bring back yesterday. Change is scary, but it also gives us an opportunity to grow. We should take the wisdom and insight from what has already happened and take that into tomorrow.
And so we must remain watchful. Don’t let your guard down. We know what works — wearing your mask properly, keeping your hands clean, physical distancing. And when it all threatens to overwhelm you again, remember, “Ligtas ang praning.”
Should you take Vitamin C and Zinc?
Vitamins are substances that cannot be made by the human body so they must be added to the diet in small amounts for the body to function normally. Vitamins (such as A, C and D) should be distinguished from minerals (such as calcium and iron), some of which are also essential micronutrients.
A balanced and healthy diet that incudes vegetables, fruits and protein should be adequate to fulfill the need for these vitamins and minerals. If you are unable to get them in your diet, then you can take a tablet to “supplement” your diet (this is why they are called supplements).
Supplements should be taken with caution. Some patients argue that these are “organic” or “just vitamins” and can’t cause any trouble. But they can interact with your medications, depending on the type and timing of when you take them. Taking an excess of vitamins also won’t make you healthier or prevent a certain disease and can cause more harm than good.
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and helps to protect cells and keep them healthy, maintaining skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage and also helps with wound healing. A deficiency in vitamin C is called scurvy, where you can have bleeding of the gums and bruising in the skin.
Good sources of vitamin C include not only citrus fruit such as oranges and calamansi but also vegetables like broccoli, potatoes, spinach and tomatoes. Heat destroys ascorbic acid, so cooking can reduce the vitamin C content of food. Steaming or microwaving may lessen these losses. Fortunately, many of the best food sources of vitamin C are usually consumed raw.
The recommended daily dose of vitamin C for Filipinos is about 30 to 70 mg per day. Consuming five varied servings of fruits and vegetables a day can give around 200 mg, while supplements usually contain 500 mg of vitamin C. Doses of up to 1000 mg a day are safe to take, but more than that and you can have stomach pain, bloating and diarrhea.
There is also a risk of developing kidney stones. Vitamin C is water soluble, so whatever the body does not need is filtered by your kidneys and is eliminated in your urine (that is why your urine turns very yellow after taking too much vitamin C). So make sure you drink enough water while taking these supplements, about eight to 10 eight-ounce glasses a day.
Taking vitamin C can reduce the duration of a cold, but does not really prevent the common cold. This has been seen only in persons involved in high-intensity physical activity in extremely cold climates — not an everyday scenario.
Zinc is another mineral that is thought to help with the immune system. It helps with making new cells in the body and wound healing, and also with digesting food. Sources of zinc include meat, shellfish, dairy foods such as cheese, bread and cereals.
The usual daily dose of elemental zinc is 7 to 9.5 mg a day. Most supplements contain 10 mg of zinc. Supplements can contain several forms of zinc — zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate. Check for the elemental zinc content in the Supplement Facts panel on the container. It has not determined however whether one form of zinc is better than the other.
Zinc is commonly found in lozenges and preparations for cough and colds. Zinc lozenges have been shown to shorten the duration of a cold when taken within the first 24 hours. Nasal sprays with zinc should be avoided because this can cause long-lasting or permanent loss of smell).
Do not take more than 50 mg of elemental zinc a day unless advised by a doctor. If you take too much, zinc can cause nausea vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and headaches. Too much zinc can cause anemia and weaken your immune system and bones.
There is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that taking vitamin C or zinc is harmful to patients with COVID-19, but there is also no evidence to suggest that it will prevent or treat the disease. There has been anecdotal use of high dose IV injections of vitamin C in severely ill patients, not over-the-counter supplements. All these potential treatments remain experimental, and should only be done under the supervision of a doctor.
As always, ask your doctor first whether a supplement is right for you before taking them, to lessen the risk of any untoward side effects or interactions, and so that you get the most out of them for optimum health.
Watching your sugar?
For a person with a high-glucose condition or anyone who is watching sugar consumption, there is a piece of good news. Yes, you may eat any fruit of your choice for as long as you do not have an allergy to it.
The main concern of most diabetics is the intake of high-sugar or starchy fruits for fear that these could raise blood sugar levels too high.
Much to the frustration of diabetics, they seem to be under the impression that fruits are strictly off limits. Not so, it seems.
To be more aware of the glycemic index (GI) of foods in general, one must do a little research.
GI is a rating of foods on a scale that covers one to 100. It indicates how quickly any food item can raise blood sugar levels. This is labeled in terms of low, medium and high.
Glycemic load or GL is the number of carbohydrates in a serving. The secret is this: To manage blood sugar, choose low GL and GI foods. In the long run, better health management means controlling sugar levels.
Trivia: There are many fruits with low GI. Another misconception is that fruits and carbohydrates are a no-no. However, here is another eye-opener —- carbohydrates that take a longer time to cook have a higher GI than those that require shorter cooking time. Example: Potatoes as opposed to pasta.
Fruit GI/GL Index
LOW: Apples, avocados, bananas, berries, cherries, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, nectarines, orange, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, mango, durian, lanzones (lansat), mangosteen, dragon fruit.
MEDIUM: Honeydew melons, figs, grapes, papayas, pineapples.
HIGH (70 and up) High GL: Dates
Go high fiber
It is the fiber in fruit that has a protective role to play.
Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugar thereby controlling blood levels.
Therefore, diets high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables play a key role in health management.
Moreover, dietary fiber lowers cholesterol levels and normalizes bowel movements, thereby maintaining better health.
Servings per day
When it comes to fruit, choose the fresh over the dried or canned.
While fruit may be nutritious, you may need to control your portions and servings.
This is a guide.
Women: 19 to 30 years = Two cups
Over 30 years = One and half cups
Men: Over 19 years = Two cups
One cup could be equivalent to one small apple or orange, or a full glass of 100 percent fresh fruit juice.
In summary: Fruits have health benefits. Whether you are a diabetic or not, watch the servings.
Always choose fruits that are high in fiber.
This Week’s Affirmation: “I am as sweet as a fruit.”
Love and light!
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More than fatigue
Certainly, one of the big issues is depression… if you see changes in appetite (they eat too much or too little), if they are asleep most of the time or they aren’t sleeping at all, that’s when fatigue is getting more serious.
Spending a couple of months in quarantine, or longer if you’re unlucky, is tiresome. Limited movements around the house, not to mention the repetitive activities that you find yourself doing, can get taxing as days go by.
There’s also the constant noise interrupting your work from home calls, cats jumping on your keyboard whenever you turn your laptop on, or the many times the delivery rider calls your name for another package you’ve bought. But there’s also the fear of catching the virus if you ever decide to do anything beyond your home. You’re left with no choice but to go about your life.
From the experts
In a virtual discussion hosted by Thomson and Reuters, Maribel Dionisio, a parenting and relationship specialist from The Love Institute, said that quarantine fatigue is an opportunity to turn around and do things differently because nothing is more important than the happiness of the people around you.
She said, “As much as possible, make your work flexible. Work on a new set of standards for yourself and your family as well so you can stay happy.”
Allan Dionisio, a family medicine practitioner, clinical toxicologist and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Philippine General Hospital, said that people should look out for signs of red flags experienced by those who are reacting to the fatigue a little differently.
“Certainly, one of the big issues is depression… if you see changes in appetite (they eat too much or too little), if they are asleep most of the time or they aren’t sleeping at all, that’s when fatigue is getting more serious,” said Dionisio.
For students coping with stress brought about from online classes, the Love Institute’s Dionisio advised that it is best to have a conversation with the child.
“We have to relax them more now. Have a conversation with your child, ask them, ‘How is it for you?’ rather than, ‘Hay nako wala ka magagawa, ganyan talaga muna (Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do. Just deal with it).’”
Let’s get personal
The truth is, I was forced to undergo home quarantine for the past month. I was in a room for more than two weeks with nothing but fear in my head thinking that I could possibly be infected with the virus.
I kept distracting myself most of the time. First, I tried watching movies on Netflix, start a new K-drama before convincing myself to write stories (which never went past a lead sentence anyway). For odd reasons, I just can’t seem to do all of it successfully.
I even forced myself to read Stephenie Meyer’s new book Midnight Sun, the novel that I have been waiting for almost 12 years. The Twilight saga spinoff, told from the perspective of Edward Cullen, had hit the shelves and fans who are funnily called ‘Twihards’ were once again back in Forks, Washington. It was the only thing keeping my mind busy as I remained isolated from the rest of my family and I’m not sure if Edward’s constant internal monologue, which I’m surprised were all full of angst, were enough to help me cope me with my situation.
The worst of my fears came. But good thing is that I have a strong support system. Now I’m living my second chance at life.
What’s in the air?
Pollution has long been a major factor in respiratory health problems — you can develop clogged airways or have difficulty breathing if you happen to inhale air contaminated by harmful particles or gases. But what would be the case if the air is corrupted by a deadly virus?
Even with masks and face shields, people still resort to using air purifiers in an effort to ward off COVID-19. Essentially, this device filters the air by trapping pollutants, allergens and toxins. Air purifiers are most often used for infants and the elderly who are more susceptible to illnesses.
Available in various sizes, there are some air purifiers that are costly. But it is a good investment. Sadly, we’re now at a time when people have to buy cleaner air to survive.
From the makers of CopperMask comes Ninja Ion, a personal air purifier designed to deactivate most viruses and bacteria with its super boosted battery life and ultra-lightweight mass. It’s also known to release 200 million counts of negative ion per second (“vitamins of the air” believed to increase physiological health and impact the quality of the air we breathe), providing the user a maximum of one-meter radius of protection.
But experts remind people not just to rely on air purifiers to kill the virus. It is still best to partner it with a healthy body (daily consumption of natural vitamins and minerals often found in vegetables and fruits), physical distancing and constant disinfection.
How human is your hospital?
In other words, the workplace must enable people to think, to manage their egos and emotions, to listen and to emotionally engage with others in positive ways that result in high-quality collaboration.
About 80 percent of medical executives say improving the patient experience is a top priority. And yet, many hospitals focus on the latest programs or initiatives that may produce short-term boosts that don’t last very long.
But as healthcare organizations face new challenges, more find they need to make a cultural transformation to improve performance and enhance the patient experience.
Patient centeredness must not be just a program or an initiative. It is the heart of a hospital’s operations, a culture of intention where every employee, from the front lines to the back offices, is aligned toward the same goals and can say with assurance this is how we do things here.
It’s more than just telling employees to be nicer to patients and to each other, particularly during this pandemic.
As the digital age advances and technology takes over more jobs, workers must get better at those “human” skills computers can’t do. They must excel at critical thinking, innovative thinking, collaborating and emotionally engaging with others in the creation and delivery of products and services.
Most of all, one must excel at continuously learning… and unlearning… and relearning.
In other words, the workplace must enable people to think, to manage their egos and emotions, to listen and to emotionally engage with others in positive ways that result in high-quality collaboration. In the digital age, people need to bring their “best selves” to work.
This shift requires people to engage in constant learning. And that means your workplace must mitigate the two big individual inhibitors of learning: ego and fear. This can be highly challenging in healthcare.
Unfortunately, most workplaces are relics of the Industrial Revolution. The leadership model is command and control, and they achieve compliance through fear.
If your company is to survive, you’re going to have to humanize it. The old, fear- and ego-based ways of working and leading won’t survive in the digital age amid a pandemic that magnifies every kind of emotion particularly in the healthcare setting.
Research by cognitive, social and positive psychologists shows that positive emotions enable and enhance innovative thinking, learning and creativity, and they lead to better judgments and decision-making. Negative emotions like fear and anxiety squelch them.
There are simple things you can do at the start of a meeting to help people be in a positive mood. Just asking people to smile at each other or make eye contact makes a big difference. So does asking people questions that indicate you care about them as individuals. Truly listening to people is mission critical.
People will feel positive when they feel cared about as unique human beings, and when they trust their colleagues and managers or leaders. Work environments that make people feel like a machine or a cog in a giant wheel will not enable the needed human performance in the digital age.
Studies show that without psychological safety, people will not fully embrace the hard parts of thinking and innovating: giving and receiving constructive feedback; challenging the status quo; asking and being asked the hard questions; being non-defensive, open-minded and intellectually courageous; and having the courage to try new things and fail.
Google has studied what makes certain teams effective in the search for the “secret sauce” of high performance. The most important factor it discovered was psychological safety. The study further states that the precondition for feeling safe is trust — and while nobody is “against” trust, many leaders worry about the time it takes to build it.
Another study indicates that intrinsic motivation occurs when three innate human needs are met: empowerment or autonomy, relatedness and competence. People feel empowered when they are given the opportunity to have input into how they do their job. Mutual respect for and reliance with others means an individual is connected or is related to another person or persons in the organization. Giving staff the tools and training for skillsets to be able to deliver excellence at optimally challenging tasks instills pride at their own competence to succeed. If employees feel that they have autonomy, relatedness and competence at work, they’re more likely to be highly engaged and thus more likely to perform at high levels.
It’s not easy to transform an organization. You can’t transform a workplace unless its leaders actually lead in transforming how they lead. They must behave in ways that enable the new desired behaviors, and they must role-model those behaviors. Leaders must be enablers, not commanders. They must liberate their employees to perform at their highest levels — cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally.
If your company is to survive, you’re going to have to humanize it. The old, fear- and ego-based ways of working and leading won’t survive in the digital age amidst a pandemic which magnifies every kind of emotion particularly in the healthcare setting.
When people are able to play to their strengths and develop themselves, they don’t just go through the motions or wish away the day. This is the kind of work we all long for.
By involving every team member, across all lines of the patient experience, and making them the architects responsible for developing a new organizational culture, they’ve not only created it, they own it. This authorship and ownership lead to mutual accountability, which means your team will police it every day at all levels … even when you’re not around.
Brazilian superfruit against illness
As the world scrambles to find a solution to control ran-amok viruses and threats of pandemics, there is an equally compelling and passionate pursuit towards preventing illness.
This boils down to adopting a lifestyle that supports optimum health, which brings us to nutrition. In the realm of foods, there are two categories – food and superfood. Can the kind of food we consume be the key?
Could it be that not all plants were created equal? Or might it not be a harvest of nutrients, a combined force of a variety of fruits and vegetables that can unlock and unleash an army of phytochemicals designed to fortify the human body against disease?
Indeed, there are superfoods or “power foods” that contain healing properties and are rich in unique compounds whose nutritive value is linked to anti-inflammatory properties.
Endorsed in medical journals, the term “superfood” has today become a household word. While this may redound to “supersales,” nothing can discount or discredit the authenticity of its health benefits.
Thus, the science supporting the deserved label is validated by the ORAC value as provided by the USDA data base. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) means the capacity of a certain food to neutralize inflammation caused by free-radical scavengers.
High on the popularity list are Acai berries, avocado, almond, barley grass, broccoli, chia seeds, cacao, eggs, garlic, goji, green tea, kale, kefir, mangosteen, pomegranates, seaweed, salmon and wheatgrass.
Fruit of the forests
A Brazilian superfruit, Acai (pronounced ASAYEE) is native to the Amazon region where they are eaten as a staple food. The berries grow on Acai palm trees whose fleshy fruit is mashed into paste and mixed with regular food. The taste is a cross between blue berries and dark chocolate.
In recent years, it has gained global fame. The health benefits of this dark purple berry are renowned.
Nutrient-dense, Acai is low in sugar, high on Vitamin A and good fat, and loaded with a plant compound called anthocyanins. Its deep purple color carries these properties along with trace minerals like zinc, magnesium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus.
In recent news, Canadian researchers are investigating the Acai berry as a possible preventive treatment of COVID-19 symptoms.
It is believed that the berry carries an inflammation inhibitor which doctors believe is urgently needed to combat the severe inflammatory response triggered by the coronavirus. Acai targets the same path way called NLRT 3 used by the virus.
University of Toronto scientists Michael Farkouh and Ana Andreazza have been studying the berry’s effect on the inflammatory response for five years. Hopefully the results of their research will be released by late 2020.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the cases of a member of the Philippine Coast Guard shared his testimony:
The 30-yar-old serviceman suddenly felt ill after his duty. Two days later, he developed fever and lost his sense of smell and taste. It was then that he tested positive for COVID-19.
Suffering from fatigue, he drank a bottle of Organique Acai given to him by his girlfriend. Within 48 hours, his breathing improved, fever dissipated and his strength slowly returned. A week after, he underwent a COVID test and tested negative.
One cannot underestimate the importance of a lifestyle that supports health. It begins with our healthy choices. Organique Acai ranks high in my daily regimen. Available in the Philippines in health drink and capsule form, you may wish to adopt it as your own regular health habit. Contact: 09228887884
Affirmation: “Yes to superfoods, Yes to acai!”
Coronavirus and your kidneys
When the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) stormed the world this year, we thought it would behave like a typical respiratory virus. There were signals from China that the new disease was hard on the kidneys, but hospitals were not prepared when cases surged across the world.
People who already have damaged kidneys have the greatest risk for more injury if hospitalized for COVID-19. But kidney injuries are common even in people not previously known to have kidney disease. Diabetes, high blood pressure, vascular disease and old age all run the risk of kidney problems.
Hospitalization is always hard on kidneys. Even before COVID-19 became widespread, hospitalization — especially an ICU stay — increases the risk of acute kidney injury (AKI). Normally, about 20 percent of hospitalized patients have AKI. Only about 4 percent, though, are at stage 3, the most serious.
Amid the COVID-19 surge, it was reported that 76 percent of ICU patients with COVID-19 had kidney damage, with a third needing dialysis, a process in which a machine performs the kidney’s blood-filtering work. The mortality rate for those with AKI was 41 percent overall and 52 percent for ICU patients. Half of those who were discharged recovered their kidney function.
It is too early to know whether survivors of serious COVID-19 cases will have long-lasting kidney damage. Not to sound alarmist, but my greatest fear is the prevalence of post-coronavirus kidney disease.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen patients who’ve had to continue dialysis even after they’ve been discharged, because their kidneys were unable to recover. And even if they recover from AKI, these patients remain at higher risk for developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) later.
CKD is already a major problem in the country that costs billions of pesos. Some 10,000 to 15,000 patients start dialysis each year, with thousands more that should but are unable to afford it, while thousands more stop because they succumb to the effects of living a life supported only by dialysis. Transplantation is a way out of dialysis for these patients, but acccess to that life-saving surgery can be even more prohibitive.
An important question is whether the coronavirus will cause a net increase in dialysis patients. It remains to be seen how the death of people already on dialysis who catch COVID-19 will balance out new dialysis patients. We need to closely monitor whether demand for dialysis during this pandemic has increased.
It is also unclear whether COVID-19 will lead to an increase in demand for kidney transplants. Although I’ve voluntarily stopped performing transplants since the pandemic started, I do encourage virtually all all patients with permanent kidney failure on dialysis to consider transplant. I am hopeful that our environment permits us to safely perform transplants once again and soon, because while dialysis keeps people alive, it does not return them to normal. A 30-year-old on dialysis will have roughly the same life expectancy of a 55-year-old not on dialysis.
Doctors aren’t sure why the kidneys are vulnerable to COVID-19. One possible reason is that many hospitalized COVID-19 patients are critically ill, and their kidneys take a beating. The kidneys need strong blood flow, but flow diminishes when patients are dehydrated or have low blood pressure. Fever, nausea and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. It’s not uncommon to find COVID-19 patients with kidney function so compromised as to need dialysis even if they never end up on a ventilator.
As I always tell my patients, our kidneys suffer along with the rest of the body. Oftentimes, our kidneys are kind of an innocent bystander — if the rest of our body isn’t doing well, our kidneys feel it, too.
Medicines for country’s COVID-19 response
Sandoz Philippines Corporation donated to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) a year’s supply of high-quality Sandoz generic medicines, which will benefit almost 1,000 patients with infections and patients with hypertension. The donation was formalized in a Zoom video conference held on 11 August and attended by top officials of the two organizations.
“From the very bottom of my heart, I would like to thank Sandoz Philippines Corporation for your timely humanitarian gesture of donating badly needed antibiotics and anti-hypertension medicines. During these difficult times, it is important that people see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially those who are unable to buy medicines because they have no livelihood at the moment. Your donation speaks well of your company’s corporate social responsibility. Maraming salamat, Sandoz,” Senator Richard Gordon, PRC chairman and chief executive officer said.
“We thank Sandoz for your support and generosity, as well as for your commitment to help our fellow Filipinos. The PRC is honored to be the humanitarian partner of an innovative leader in the pharmaceutical industry. We have a shared commitment to uplift human dignity through compassion and the provision of quality and affordable medicines,” Elizabeth Zavalla, the PRC secretary general said.
According to Sen. Gordon, the PRC will distribute the donated medicines to the most vulnerable communities through the organization’s chapters nationwide. The PRC Health Services department will ask their chapters in the National Capital Region (NCR), which is currently the country’s COVID-19 hotspot, to identify communities where the donated medicines are most needed, Zavalla explained. The PRC will distribute the donated antibiotics to 15 government hospitals, she added.
Telemedicine: Unlimited, 24/7 doctors’ access
For every 33,000 Filipinos, there is only one doctor in the country.
Among the consequences of quarantine protocols is restricted access to healthcare, especially for people in remote barangays in the country.
In the Liveable Cities Challenge (LCC) project, the Liveable Cities Labs webinar series dubbed “Digital Transformation in a Post-GCQ World: Building Healthy Cities and Municipalities,” KonsultaMD is giving local government units (LGUs) the option of extending telemedicine to their constituents who live in remote barangays.
KonsultaMD is a subscription-based telehealth service available 24/7, allowing access to skilled and licensed Filipino doctors who can provide safe medical assessment and advice on basic healthcare and proper medication. It is operated by Global Telehealth Inc., a joint venture of 917Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Globe Telecom, and Mexico’s Salud Interactiva.
“Telehealth is more relevant now more than ever. People need access to doctors, and telehealth provides that even to remote areas where no doctors are present. You can consult a KonsultaMD doctor anytime, anywhere through voice or video,” said Cholo Tagaysay, chief operations officer of KonsultaMD.
According to Tagaysay, for every 33,000 Filipinos, there is only one doctor in the country. As the pandemic continues to affect many parts of the country, doctors are harder to find especially in the provinces and rural areas. LGUs can use KonsultaMD not just as a helpful healthcare resource to serve their constituents in remote barangays or urban areas, but also to make social services inclusive for all.
“What makes KonsultaMD unique is its fast, 24/7 unlimited access to doctors. There’s no need to make an appointment. You can talk to a doctor immediately, 24/7. And you can consult as many times as you need. All that for only P15 per week. And pricing for LGUs is much lower,” added Tagaysay.
The Department of Health (DOH) is recommending telemedicine especially now that the country is moving towards the new normal and the pandemic has shown challenges that need to be addressed as soon as possible.
“Telemedicine improves access to health information and services hampered by geographic, transportation and communication barriers as well as health provider shortages,” said Dr. Eric Tayag, director of the Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service of the DOH.
Aside from Tagaysay and Tayag, Sacha Bootsma, technical officer on Health Emergencies of the World Health Organization, and Dr. Gia Sison, head of Women’s Wellness Center of the Makati Medical Center, also took part in the webinar moderated by LCC chair Bill Luz, and presented by Globe Telecom.
The Liveable Cities Labs is a series of webinar sessions aimed to equip cities with knowledge and insights for designing better solutions for their communities.
Meanwhile, Maridol Ylanan, CEO of Global Telehealth Inc. said telemedicine is a viable alternative to visits to hospital emergency rooms which should be reserved for more critical situations.
Through telemedicine, customers can have 24/7 access to doctors while ensuring that they are not at risk of getting or spreading disease. “Telemedicine providers are here to give health advice.
KonsultaMD, for instance, has a team of doctors who are fully-equipped on how to deal with various medical concerns including COVID-19. Through telephone triaging, the doctor can advise the customer whether they need to go to the hospital for further evaluation or testing,” Ylanan said.
In other countries like the United States, telemedicine is already viewed as a key tool to help fight COVID-19 since the absence of physical interaction can slow down the spread of the virus.
While telemedicine is not common yet to Filipinos, KonsultaMD has introduced this innovative healthcare service five years ago.
KonsultaMD offers unlimited immediate access to doctors 24/7 through flexible and affordable plans, such as an individual subscription fee of P15 a week or P60 a month for Globe Prepaid and TM customers, deductible from their prepaid load.
For Globe Postpaid customers, they have the option to subscribe to a P99 per week plan which may be extended to one additional family member or P150 per month with four extensions, chargeable to their monthly bill.
Non-Globe and TM customers may also avail of KonsultaMD services through a one-year subscription of P150 per month for group or P60 a month for individual, payable via credit card or mobile money and subject to regular cell phone charges if call is via mobile.
Subscriptions may be done by visiting https://www.konsulta.md/subscribe, and calling 79880 toll-free via mobile (for Globe/TM customers) or (02) 7798-8000.