Doctors to the Barrios to DOH: Reconsider sending members to Cebu City
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Physicians under the Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) program are requesting the Department of Health (DOH) to reconsider reassigning some of their members in an effort to decongest hospitals in Cebu City amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
DTTB Batches 36-ALAB and 37-MANDALA, in a position paper issued on Sunday, June 28, condemned the actions of DOH due to lack of proper consultation and communication.
“We, the Doctors to the Barrios Batches 36-ALAB and 37-MANDALA, strongly condemn this directive because the involved doctors have not been suitably informed through writing, no proper consultation with the stakeholders was done prior to this directive, detailed guidelines and protocols to protect the doctors in this temporary reassignment are not provided, and it contradicts the thrust of the DTTB Program,” portions of the statement read.
On Sunday, national media outlets reported that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III had ordered around 30 to 40 physicians to be fielded in Cebu City to help the already understaffed hospitals here.
In doing so, the health department tapped some physicians under the DTTB program to be part of the augmentation team for the province’s capital.
In their statement, DTTB’s ALAB and MANDALA Batches said they were only informed last June 26 that several of their doctors assigned in municipalities in Western Visayas and Central Visayas regions would be pulled out to report for duty in unspecified private hospitals.
They also said doctors from Western Visayas were expected to start their work here on June 30 until September 5 while those from Central Visayas from June 26 to July 30.
“This order for DTTBs was only supported by a request letter addressed to the Undersecretary of Health for Field Implementation and Coordination Team (FICT) for Visayas and Mindanao and an unsigned advanced copy of an Office Order, respectively,” they added.
Lack of Consultation
DTTB is requesting for DOH to hold an ‘inclusive dialogue’ with their doctor-members affected by the new directive, and the local government units (LGUs) in which they are currently serving.
“We demand the DOH Regional Offices in Region VI and VII to hold an inclusive dialogue with our Rural Health Physicians and their affected Municipalities,” said DTTB.
The group pointed out that the reassignment could have a dire impact on the communities where some of their doctors are working.
“Removing a DTTB from a municipality, albeit temporarily, will deprive healthcare to thousands of Filipinos in already marginalized communities,” they added.
“Failing to do so makes such directives exploitative for doctors and inconsiderate for the communities that they serve. There is complete disregard for the concerns of the doctors and the local chief executives,” said DTTB.
The group also said the presence of DTTB members in remote areas is crucial especially with the Balik Probinsya Program of the national government that sends Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) to their respective hometowns.
“Due to the return of locally stranded individuals and overseas Filipino workers, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise not just in cities but also in municipalities… If the goal of this reassignment is to address the overwhelmed capacity of private hospitals in Cebu City, the DTTBs are in a position to help decongest hospitals by providing primary care in our communities,” DTTB said.
COVID-19 patients swamping in hospitals are among the primary reasons the national government’s anti-coronavirus task force cited in their decision to revert Cebu City to an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest form of community quarantine.
READ MORE: It’s back to ECQ for Cebu City
Several cases of patients, who were reportedly refused to be admitted have been documented. The most prominent one involved a Briton who died inside an ambulance that prompted Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro ‘Teddy’ Locsin Jr. to apologize to the United Kingdom (UK) government.
The problem was traced not only to a lack of beds but also to understaffed hospitals and health institutions.
Aside from doctors, the city also lacked nurses. These developments led DOH in Central Visayas (DOH-7) to hire under board doctors and more nurses to help the existing manpower in private hospitals. /dbs
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