Medical societies call for One Hospital Command expansion, other measures to improve COVID-19 response

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2020 01:58 PM

MANILA — An alliance of 160 medical societies on Tuesday said they are recommending the expansion of the government’s One Hospital Command to include clinics, laboratories and local government units.

“Yung sintomas na puno ang ospital, ay dala ng weak coordination,” Dr. Antonio Dans, Healthcare Professionals Alliance against COVID-19 (HPAAC) spokesperson, said during a virtual briefing.

(The symptom of fully-occupied hospitals is due to weak coordination.)

HPAAC, which represents more than 1 million healthcare workers including doctors, enumerated their analysis of the Philippines’ problems pertaining to COVID-19, their diagnosis and “prescribed” treatment plan.

Dans said that the Department of Health and the National Task Force’s One Hospital Command is a good way to improve coordination efforts and to ensure that patients are taken care of.

But he said HPAAC also believes that it can be further expanded to help outpatients who need consultation or testing.

“Minumungkahi naming palawakin ang sakop ng One Hospital Command. Isama na natin lahat, hindi lang coordination ng hospitals. Let’s include pharmacies, clinics, laboratories and other services,” said Dans, who is also from the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine.

(We recommend expanding the One Hospital Command. Let’s include all, not just coordination of hospitals. Let’s include pharmacies, clinics, laboratories and other services.)

This is just one of the several recommendations that the HPAAC will be submitting to the National Task Force for COVID-19.

Dans clarified that while they called for stricter quarantine measures, which resulted in the modified enhanced community quarantine for Metro Manila and nearby areas on Aug. 4-18, they spent the “timeout” to meet with DOH and other agencies to think of ways to help improve the country’s COVID-19 response.

He pointed out that the main purpose of the MECQ was not to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases but to find ways to improve response and address problems.

For the past several weeks, the Philippines has been seeing record-high COVID-19 cases due to the earlier easing of quarantine measures in a bid to gradually open up the economy. A government special adviser on COVID-19 said the country last week reached its peak of new COVID-19 cases in a day as it reached more than 6,000.

Dans said they also suggested the strengthening of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) to help decision-makers make sense of the more than 58,000 scientific studies on COVID-19 that are posted by the World Health Organization. This is to address the “overwhelming science” brought about by studies about the novel coronavirus.

“Sila (HTAC) ang dapat konsultahin kung ano ang tamang gamot, bakuna, test at iba pa. 'Wag po yung manufacturer ang tatanungin natin kasi siempre, baka piliin lang ang datos na binibigay sa atin. Lalo namang 'wag hanapin lang sa FB o Google,“ he said.

(HTAC should be consulted about the correct medicine, vaccine, test, et cetera. Officials should not be asking the manufacturer because they might just pick the data they will share with us. And definitely, do not look for answers on Facebook or Google.)

The other recommendations include proper enforcement of existing guidelines on workplace safety and transportation safety.

Dans said they were happy with their meetings with the Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

“Naglabas na po ng safety guidelines for transportation. Sana po, sundin ng lahat,” he said, citing as an example the allocation of lanes for buses so that the public transport can move faster, limiting the time passengers spend in the enclosed vehicle.

The alliance also mentioned the need for good internet connection and assistance for citizens, especially the poor, who are most affected by the lockdown.

Dr. Aileen Espina of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians said that their recommendation is to make people realize that instead of the hospital, the community serves as the true frontline of the pandemic.

Espina said they hope their recommendations will be incorporated in the existing framework for the government’s COVID-19 response.


The doctors said the problems that arose during the pandemic are not new.

Dr. Pauline Convocar of the Philippine College of Emergency Medicine said that overwhelmed emergency rooms was a problem even before the current crisis.

“Ngayon na-highlight lang ng COVID yung problema natin with inequity, hindi maayos na pagdi-distribute ng resources,” she said.

(COVID highlighted our problem with inequity, the improper distribution of resources.)

“Dahil sa impact ng COVID, ramdam na ramdam po natin ang kawalan ng health care human resource,” Espina added.

(Because of the impact of COVID, we now feel the scarcity of healthcare human resource.)

Dr. Maria Carmela Kasala said that now that the government has heard their recommendations, they will continue to monitor if the new strategies are being correctly implemented.

“Masyado na pong matagal itong 5-6 months. In less than 2 weeks, magbe-Ber (months) na. Sana, by Pasko, makalabas na tayo at lahat,” she said.

(The 5-6 months of lockdown is too long. In less than 2 weeks, the -Ber months will start. Hopefully, by Christmas, we can finally go out.)