MANILA — The government is finalizing only this week the implementing rules for the disbursement of benefits to health workers who contract COVID-19 as contained in a law that was passed more than two months ago, an official said Wednesday.
“We bear witness to the efforts and sacrifices of our health care workers everyday. That is why the (Department of Health) is committed to effectively implement Section 4F of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during a televised briefing.
“This will be done through a joint administrative order (JAO) by the DOH, (Department of Budget and Management) and (Department of Labor and Employment) that is being finalized this week,” she added.
Section 4F of Republic Act no. 11469 or Bayanihan to Heal As One Act states that public and private health workers who contract severe COVID-19 infection while in the line of duty will receive a compensation of P100,000.
The family of public and private health workers who die “while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic” will be compensated with P1 million.
While the law was passed in March, the said provision has a retroactive application from Feb. 1, 2020.
Vergeire said the JAO underwent “stringent review.”
“In preparation of its immediate implementation, our public assistance unit has been calling the heirs of 32 health care workers for the submission of necessary documents to claim the benefits,” Vergeire said.
“We are also gathering information to identify those who were classified as severe patients so they can be informed also of these benefits.”
On Tuesday, senators questioned the delayed implementation of said provision of the Bayanihan law. One senator called it “serious neglect.”
Based on DOH data, 32 health workers in the country succumbed to COVID-19, including 4 nurses, 26 were doctors and 2 non-medical staff.
The DOH has not released the total number of health care workers who were considered severe cases. But according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, May 4 recorded a peak of 9 severe cases.
Currently, only one health worker has severe symptoms of the disease.
As of Monday, 2,669 health workers were infected with COVID-19, accounting for 16 percent of the country's total confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The World Health Organization previously expressed concern over the high rate of infection among health workers in the Philippines, which has been initially attributed to limited supplies of personal protective equipment.
Officials say cases of the infection among health workers have reportedly gone down due to better infection control measures in hospitals and laboratories.