Binay questions government preparedness in medical logistics

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 15 2020 08:17 PM

MANILA - Sen. Nancy Binay on Wednesday lamented that the government has yet to designate an official for medical logistics, saying the public has yet to see a full accounting of essential supplies donated, bought and distributed for the coronavirus crisis.

The "apparent lack of foresight in anticipating the required medical logistics" has "exposed thousands of health workers to the deadly virus," Binay said in a statement.

"Isang buwan na ang lockdown, but no government unit is accountable or anyone from IATF is in-charge of medical logistics," the senator said.

"What we need a long time ago is a cohesive response to the pandemic," she said.

The Philippines could have avoided shortages in personal protective equipment for medical workers and ventilators for COVID-19 patients if the government did not "lack the agressiveness to act on time," Binay said.

The senator noted that the Department of Health in January said "it was on top of the situation and has a P2.25-billion and P10-million budget ready" for the purchase of personal protective equipment for health workers.

"Four months na [since January], anyare po?" Binay asked.

(What happened?)

"Doctors, nurses and health workers are ready to sacrifice and serve, leave their families behind, and risk their lives during this public health emergency but government must also show that it truly cares -not by asking them to die for the country - but to provide them with life-saving resources necessary to allow them to save lives of thousands more," she said.

Several private hospitals earlier appealed to the public for face masks, hazmat suits and other personal protective equipment as the deluge of coronavirus patients in health facilities depleted their supplies.

Some hospitals have also turned away patients, saying they were no longer capable of admitting more people.

The private sector and non-government organizations responded to the call of health workers by pooling funds for face masks, and turning ateliers into shops that produced hazmat suits. Foreign government - including Singapore, China and the United States - donated various medical equipment to boost the Philippines' fight against COVID-19.

Congress also passed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that guaranteed special allowances for health workers, and mandated President Rodrigo Duterte to send a weekly report to the legislative to detail how the government has been addressing the global pandemic.