PH to buy more high-flow nasal cannula devices as alternative to intubating COVID-19 patients

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2020 01:39 PM

A health worker walks towards oxygen tanks at Gat Andres Hospital in Tondo, Manila, on July 28, 2020. Czar Dancel, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines is looking to buy more high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) devices to help treat COVID-19 patients, the country's health department said Monday.

“Recently, ang OCD (Office of Civil Defense), nag-procure sila para maipamahagi sa iba’t ibang ospital. Sa ngayon, naghahanap tayo ng suppliers para makapag-procure din ang (Department of Health) para makapagbigay ng additional sa ating mga ospital,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(Recently, the OCD procured HFNC to be distributed to different hospitals. Now, we are looking for suppliers so the DOH can also procure and give additional units to our hospitals.)

HFNC devices allow heated and humidified oxygen to be delivered to the patient through a nasal cannula or a device, increasing the airflow for patients needing respiratory help.

Vergeire said they have seen the evidence that it can be an option for the clinical management of those with severe and critical COVID-19.

“Ginagamit na yan sa iba’t ibang ospital natin dati pa, nung nagpalabas ang PSMID, yung Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, ng kanilang guidelines na pwede itong alternative, as it reduces chances of being intubated,” she said.

(That is being used in our different hospitals since the PSMID or the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases included it in their guidelines as an alternative, as it reduces chances of being intubated.)

Back in July, Carlito Galvez Jr., presidential peace adviser and head of the national task force handling the pandemic, said the purchase of HFNC is part of their strategy in treating severe COVID-19 patients and preventing more deaths.

A doctor from the Philippine General Hospital and the Lung Center of the Philippines also said that HFNC is part of their new strategy in treating patients with mild to moderate acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

"Gamechanger siya. Napalitan niya 'yung way we are approaching itong COVID-19. And because of that, nape-prevent niya 'yung intubation. Mas nakikita po namin na gumagaling 'yung pasyente," Dr. Jubert Benedicto said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo earlier this month. 

(It's a game-changer. It altered the way we are approaching this COVID-19. And because of that, intubation is being prevented. We can see that patients are recovering.)

Of the country's 56,473 active COVID-19 cases, as of Aug. 30, 1.6 percent are critical while 1.1 percent are severe. Almost all, or 91.3 percent are mild cases, while 6.1 percent are asymptomatic.

The cumulative total has topped 217,000, seven months since the Philippines' confirmed its first case, involving a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.