With the unrelenting pandemic, the country direly needs to form a Medical Reserve Corps to address the health crisis and those that may emerge, Sen. Lawrence Christopher “Bong” Go said.
He expounded that the coronavirus disease contagion took the whole world by surprise since in just a span of a few months, the health crisis altered the way humanity lives.
“It will continue to influence the way we move forward in the foreseeable future,” he explained in his weekly “GOing Forward” column.
He noted that it has been a tough fight for the whole country, especially for medical professionals who are at the frontlines of this battle.
“While we continue to handle this crisis with a whole-of-society approach, we learn lessons on where our country lacks in resources and where we need to improve our response to this health threat,” the senator indicated.
As Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go said it is his duty to push for measures that will improve the well-being of Filipinos.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that our country of more than 100 million Filipinos needs proper and sufficient healthcare facilities to cater to all their medical concerns,” he averred.
Better health force
Go is advocating the swift passage of Senate Bill 1451 or the Medical Reserve Corps Act of 2020, which aims to mobilize a dedicated group to complement the existing health force and support emergency response efforts during a crisis.
The bill seeks to give the Secretary of Health the authority to mobilize, in coordination with the Secretaries of the Departments of National Defense, Education and Interior and Local Government, persons with degrees in medicine, nursing, medical technology and other health-related fields who have yet to obtain their licenses. Of course, they will be duly compensated once called for duty.
“It is a grim reality that our medical personnel are already strained by the number of COVID-19 patients. This, in turn, hinders our overall capacity to combat other diseases immediately and effectively. This also leads to the delayed treatment of our fellow Filipinos who are suffering from other ailments,” according to the close ally of the President.
“We believe the additional support provided by a medical reserve corps will be of great help to our limited healthcare system,” he added.
The senator had authored and filed laws that aim to improve the country’s health infrastructure such as increasing the bed capacity of government hospitals, creating numerous quarantine facilities and testing laboratories and establishing different health units across the country to enhance the capabilities in epidemiology and disease surveillance.
In the 18th Congress, through the concerted efforts of legislators, Go listed several health-related measures which were eventually signed into law such as the Malasakit Centers Act; bill increasing the salaries of our civil servants, including our government doctors, nurses and other allied professionals; and bill increasing the hospital bed and service capabilities of several government hospitals scattered around the country.
“While I am glad that we are making good strides on this aspect, there remains another gap that needs to be addressed — and that is the low number of country’s medical personnel,” according to the solon.
Medical professionals can only handle so much during a health crisis, Go noted. “I have personally seen how exhausted and affected they are during this pandemic. In order to help them, we need to increase our medical human resource. President Duterte himself has acknowledged this and deemed this an urgent matter in his latest State of the Nation Address,” the senator related.