World Health Worker Week is celebrated annually around the first or second week of April to recognize the important work that health workers do and raise awareness on the challenges they face every day. Themed “Leaders on the Front Line”, this year’s celebration takes on special significance as the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the heroic efforts of health workers on the frontline. To date, a number of doctors in the country died in the line of duty. Many more frontline health workers are falling ill as local hospitals struggle with the surge of suspected COVID-19 patients and shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Frontline health workers—emergency room and ICU doctors, nurses, medical technologists, radiologists, and other healthcare professionals and responders who deal directly with patients—are one of our best responses to mitigate and contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet they are also the most at risk of becoming infected. We must protect our frontline health workers or face the grim prospect of a paralyzed health system at the worst possible time.
For those of us to which the “stay home” order applies, let us fully comply. We must all practice physical distancing and follow community quarantine measures. Doing so will help slow down COVID-19 transmission, prevent its exponential spread and flatten the curve. This will buy time for hospital personnel as we reduce face-to-face interaction between patients and frontline health workers.
The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) recognizes the immense role of our healthcare workers who are dedicating and risking their lives to contain this pandemic. At the local level, many of our member companies are supporting our frontline health workers through donations of their medical needs. PHAP, through the PHAPCares Foundation, has also started its campaign for the collective response of the research-based pharmaceutical industry.
Flattening the curve will also buy time for researchers to develop COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. According to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), there are more than 20 vaccines and a number of antiviral medicines in development as the global pharmaceutical industry races against time to find effective ways to prevent and cure COVID-19. Pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing thousands of doses of investigational and previously approved medicines that could treat COVID-19 for emergency use and for use in COVID-19-related clinical trials around the globe. The pharmaceutical industry is also scaling up capacity of diagnostic test kits for COVID-19. Rolling out diagnostics to confirm whether patients and health workers are infected with the novel coronavirus is a key step in preventing and slowing its spread.
PHAP thanks our Filipino health workers and those working across the globe. We are thankful for your service and dedication, especially amidst these challenging times. Let us all do our part in protecting and supporting our frontline health workers, and the many people who work with them in hospitals, clinics and communities. Also silently working behind the scene are the men and women in the pharmaceutical sector who vow not to rest until medicines reach hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and patients despite the many challenges brought about by the pandemic.
TEODORO B. PADILLA is the executive director of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP). PHAP represents the research medicines and vaccines sector in the country. PHAP is one with the nation in the fight against COVID-19.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.