Duterte approves for health workers’ protective equipment

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved in principle the PHP2.25-billion budget for the procurement of personal protective equipment for 5,000 health care workers tasked to respond to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) threat, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on February 4, 2020.

During the joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Health and Demography and Finance on the government’s preparedness on the global public health threat, Duque said this was among the President’s directives in his emergency meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease on Monday.

“The President has also approved, in principle, the budget of PHP2.25 billion for the procurement of personal protective equipment on the assumption that there will be 5,000 health care workers who will need this,” Duque said.

“This is going to be on the assumption that this will last for 90 days or three months multiplied by three shifts because the care will have to be round the clock. It cannot just be for eight hours and the total amount would be PHP2.25 billion and of course PHP10 million worth of surgical masks (was allotted),” he added.

He said the PPE will include headgear, goggles, n95 masks, gloves, and aprons, which cost around PHP1,500 per set.

Duque noted that the other directives of President Duterte were the provisions of regular inventory of isolation rooms for public and private sector health care facilities, as well as a dedicated transport vehicle for 2019-nCoV patients.

“There will be a dedicated transport vehicle to ferry patients from the communities, assuming that there is going to be a community spread but…I hope that doesn’t happen. But just the same we have to be proactive and be ready for that eventuality,” Duque said.

Duque said the President also highlighted the scaling up of diagnostic capacities not only of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine but also the accreditation of laboratories of tertiary private hospitals for the testing of the novel coronavirus.

“On the same day, the President reassured the public with transparency that the Philippine government is capable indeed of addressing the 2019-nCoV situation,” Duque said. (Filane Mikee Cervantes, Ma. Teresa Montemayor PNA)