Time is running out for us to avert a health care exhaustion, with new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases piling up and the numbers expected to increase exponentially in the next several weeks.
The government and private sectors must really have a concerted effort to optimize whatever limited human and material resources we have in meeting the requirements of this health crisis.
Here are some doable steps:
1. To diagnose quickly for better decision-making of health care providers, to prevent under- and overtreatment, all biosafe laboratory facilities, particularly in Metro Manila, can be activated to enable them to test for COVID-19 using Food and Drug Administration-
approved machines which yield accurate results faster. We can also quickly build capabilities of local manufacturers to produce rapid result COVID-19 test kits.
2. Protect our doctors, nurses and other front-liners with proper and not improvised protective personal equipment so they don’t get infected. At the rate our health care workers are being unduly exposed and sidelined due to infection or exposure, we’ll soon run out of health care manpower.
3. Build capabilities to manufacture ventilators. Even the old-tech or relatively low-tech mechanical respirators are sufficient for some patients with less serious or complicated respiratory failure.
4. Require all citizens to wear masks when outside their private residences, otherwise they could be penalized.
5. Require all buildings, offices, establishments to place hand sanitizers in all entrances. Although many are already doing it, many still don’t. Public bathrooms should at all times also have liquid/foam soap and water, or be penalized.6. Apply anticipatory management. Each hospital should partner with a nearby institution (school, private club, hotel) that have facilities, such as gymnasium, covered courts, bed and linen to set up isolation tents to handle persons under investigation (PUI) and mild COVID-19 cases. This will free up the beds in big hospitals for more serious cases. These improvised health facilities can be manned by “second liners”—nurses, volunteer paramedical health workers with just a few supervising physicians. These facilities could even be funded by the private sector.
7. Main hospitals should just focus on serious and critically ill patients. All others will be referred to their PUI center, which is ideally funded by private donations.
8. Government should maximize private sector assistance and mandate a group of private individuals that will act as command center to monitor, supervise, coordinate, redirect private donations to ensure efficient delivery of goods and services to institutions and barangay in need.
9. All efforts must be coordinated and streamlined. So many efforts are duplicated and they sometimes overlap with dissipated efficiency and effectiveness.
10. Supplies and other donations must be distributed properly, and the timing of distribution should be considered to prevent undersupply at times and oversupply at other times. Everyone is asking for the same things. Even the private sector will burn out soon.
There must be a portal managed by a command center that constantly updates the needs of local government units, hospitals and other health care facilities. Potential donors can view requirements of each institution or barangay in real time.
The command center matches these needs with the appropriate foundation or group of donors, and monitors also how the donations are used. The donors can see a more concrete impact of their generosity, and would be motivated to donate more.—CONTRIBUTED INQ