Cordillera youth seek to protect frontliners with improvised face masks amid shortage
MANILA, Philippines – A youth group in Cordillera is working to ensure frontliners battling the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the area are well-protected.
Even before Luzon was placed under lockdown on March 17, members of the Cordillera Youth Brigade of Youth for Peace and Development Movement (YFPDM) noticed how some frontliners in Tabuk City, Kalinga, were heading out into the field without personal protective equipment (PPE). (READ: Left in the dark: Little protection for government's coronavirus frontliners)
Comprised of young people aged 15-30 who are graduates of Youth Leadership Summits conducted by their local government units, Cordillera Youth Brigade led an initiative to help provide PPEs to military, police, health workers and barangay council officers on duty in the area.
Their inspiration for the project was the military, police, and health workers on the frontlines who were working to prevent the spread of the virus without enough protection. Their call is to help our protectors to have the protection they need to work effectively. (READ: Frontliners battle fear to confront novel coronavirus)
Using their own money to buy the materials, volunteers of the Cordillera Youth Brigade improvised face shields using acetate and face masks from fabric cloth. They’re also distributing hand disinfectants to frontline workers battling coronavirus in their barangays. (READ: Filipinos find ways to improvise safety in the time of coronavirus)
The organization prepared 280 face shields, 50 face masks, and hundreds of liters of hand disinfectant, distributing it to all checkpoints and all 42 barangays in Tabuk City. The nearest barangay from the city is just a one-minute drive away, while the farthest is Brgy. Dupag – a one-hour trip from the center of town.
The group hopes that through their simple efforts in providing PPEs, however improvised, frontliners will have ample protection, ensuring they can go home to their families safely.
The group said that they chose to prioritize Tabuk City because it is also considered as a center of livelihood, both in the province and in the region. Tabuk City is one of only two cities in Cordillera aside from Baguio City.
Due to a lack of acetate, the group had to improvise again, using 6-liter plastic bottles of mineral water for the face shields.
Their next plan is to provide for all the municipalities of the province if they can have enough materials. And after ensuring that all frontliners are given protection, they also plan to provide some for their fellow students.
They also recently started distributing to neighbor municipalities in Pinukpuk, Tanudan, Lubuagan and Rizal.
After being contacted by the Kalinga Provincial Hospital, Kalinga District Hospital and several rural health units and private clinics, their volunteers are again making free PPEs to be distributed to these medical centers.
Aside from getting positive feedback, they also received donations in the form of raw materials from doctors, store managers and private personalities in Kalinga. A sewing machine was also lent to them so they can make more improvised face masks.
Several youth groups from Mountain Province and Bukidnon also contacted them and asked for their assistance in replicating their project.
Among the groups that adopted their initiative is POINTY Bukidnon (Propelling Our Inherited Nation Through our Youth Bukidnon).
The group has been distributing free hygiene kits which include anti-bacterial soap, tissue, and leaflets on COVID-19 symptoms and proper handwashing to commuters and locals at the Maramag-Quezon border in Bukidnon.
They hope the distribution of almost 160 hygiene kits will help commuters and locals remember how proper hand-washing can help minimize the spread of the virus.
Loverne Abbacan, YFPDM Cordillera Youth Brigade Regional President, highlighted the importance of the youth in nation-building, especially during difficult times. Through their initiative, they hoped to show the contribution of the youth in Kalinga, and were touched how even professionals recognized the importance of the youth-led project. (READ: Filipino bayanihan spirit shines through amid coronavirus outbreak)
"We decided to help to show the role of youth in nation-building lalo na sa mga ganitong nangyayaring sakuna, para maipakita po na bilang kabataan, may ma-i-aambag po kaming maganda at kapaki-pakinabang sa lipunan," said Abbacan.
(We decided to help to show the role of youth in nation-building, especially during crises, to show that the youth can contribute to society.)
With the ongoing crisis due to rise of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, the region is putting in place measures to contain the spread of the virus. It currently houses a Huawei Al CT Scan System in Baguio City, which is being test run for faster infection detection of coronavirus among patients.
While the results are not conclusive and confirmatory, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said he hopes the technology will help give a heads-up if the patient is a probable COVID-19 case.
As of March 23, 4pm, Tabuk City has no confirmed cases of coronavirus. However, they have 17 persons under investigation (PUI) and 868 persons under monitoring for COVID-19, according to Tabuk City Health Office.
Meanwhile, the first COVID-19 case in Cordillera was a 39-year-old seafarer from Abra who tested positive on March 14. Nine days later, a 61-year-old woman who had traveled to Italy became the first confirmed case in Baguio City, according to DOH Cordillera Regional Director Dr Amelita Pangilinan.
The aim of Cordillera Youth Brigade is to render limited services for a peaceful, united and well-developed community, specifically to their area of responsibility.
Cordillera Youth Brigade is still accepting donations, especially raw materials. They can be contacted through their mobile number at 09218827083, and email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. – Rappler.com