Community Medicine Development Foundation

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We Should Prepare for the Next Big Front Against COVID-19: The Provinces

Even as Filipinos are grappling with the enhanced community quarantine imposed on Luzon, a group of community doctors believe that the next main front in the war against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is in the provinces, at the community level.

According to the Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED), there is a very strong possibility that what has unfolded in Metro Manila over the last few days – the rapid increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases – will happen in the provinces shortly, if not yet.

The group believes that the impact of COVID-19 will be more greatly felt in rural communities because the healthcare system there is relatively weaker than those in the urban areas. The socio-economic status of poor communities is also much worse. Hence, the burden will be much greater.

“The confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulacan Pampanga, and Tarlac, as well as in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, and Davao, suggest that we may not be moving fast enough,” according to Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos. “If we are to beat COVID-19, we must be two-steps ahead.”

The provinces should be prepared and the problems already being experienced in the National Capital Region, like shortages in needed personal protective equipment and diagnostic test kits, as well as undue exposure of health personnel, should be avoided.

Health facilities like municipal health offices and district and provincial hospitals are often understaffed, ill equipped, and inadequately prepared. Tertiary hospitals are few and far apart.

Social support for the marginalized is also much weaker, especially in difficult areas. Many places still do not have enough food, much less potable water or electricity.

“We must be mobilizing more than what we are already doing now.” Nisperos added. (Press Release)