Philippines needs P11.7-B to hire COVID-19 contact tracers

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 28 2020 11:13 AM

MANILA — The Philippines would need more than P11 billion to hire and retain enough contact tracers for the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the Department of Health on Thursday.

The DOH earlier said the ideal ratio set by the World Health Organization is one contact tracer for every 800 people in the country. 

Contact tracers are the ones who track down close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, ensuring that suspect cases are isolated and tested.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a Thursday morning briefing with media that the country would need more than 120,000 contact tracers to meet this goal. 

“Nung tinignan natin, meron na tayo existing na 38,000 plus na contact tracers. And we still need 95,000 plus na contact tracers,” she said.

(We have an existing 38,000 plus contact tracers. And we still need 95,000 plus contact tracers.)

“Nung kinompute natin ito with proposed qualifications ng mga contact tracers, nakita natin na mangangailangan tayo ng 11.7 billion (Pesos) in 3 months,” she added

(When we computed and considered the proposed qualifications of contact tracers, we saw that we would need P11.7 billion in 3 months.)

On Wednesday, Vergeire explained that contact tracers should ideally be from the medical profession like a nurse or an “allied medical professional” or at least a graduate or undergraduate of an “allied medical course.” Allied health professions may refer to a wide range of professions that deal with health care. 

Contact tracers are expected to do data gathering, interviews and health assessment of contacts and health education.

Vergeire said they are already discussing the hiring of more contact tracers with the Department of Interior and Local Government.

“Because we are expecting that DILG will be the ones to manage this para 'yung mga local government units nila ang magha-hire, sila ang magte-train at sila rin naman ang gagamit ng contact tracers,” she said.

(Because we are expecting that DILG will be the ones to manage this so their local government units can hire and train contact tracers since they will also be the ones using them.)

As of Thursday, there has been 15,049 confirmed COVID-19 cases although more than 22,000 individuals have already tested positive. The DOH said they are still validating cases before including them in the list of confirmed cases.