MANILA — The Department of Heath on Wednesday confirmed that a number of contact tracers employed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government have yet to be re-hired as contractual employees.
“Ito ay nagkaroon ng end of contract kasi at hinahanapan pa (ng DILG) ng pondo para makapag-hire tayo ulit,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a Laging Handa briefing.
(They have reached the end of contract and the DILG is still looking for funds to hire again.)
This, after the World Health Organization expressed concern that the decrease in contact tracing personnel would affect the country’s COVID-response at a time when more COVID-19 cases are expected in the wake of holiday merriment.
WHO Philippines country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said on Tuesday’s Laging Handa briefing that “this could hamper having an effective response to this surge.” He was referring to the expected increase in cases after the holiday season and the Feast of the Black Nazarene, when thousands of devotees gathered in and around Quiapo Church in Manila for the annual event.
Contact tracing of COVID-19 patients is currently the responsibility of local government units.
Vergeire said LGUs have been informed of the situation and are being encouraged to hire the contact tracers to continue their efforts.
“Pero kailangan natin alalahanin, itong mga contact tracers na binigay ng DILG noon na sila ang nag-hire is on top or an augmentation of the existing cadre of the local government,” she said.
(But we have to remember that the contact tracers assigned by the DILG is an augmentation of the existing cadre of local government personnel.)
She said they are hoping that the LGUs could “fill in the gap while the DILG prepares and looks for funds for the contact tracers.”