MANILA, Philippines – The office of Vice President Leni Robredo and its partner-donors were able to raise as much as P12.3 million to buy more personal protective equipment (PPE) sets for health workers on the frontlines of fighting the novel coronavirus outbreak.
According to Robredo’s official Facebook account on Sunday, March 15, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) allotted P5.9 million of its current 2020 budget for the donation drive.
The remaining P6.4 million was raised by private donors and the Kaya Natin! Movement, a partner-organization of Robredo’s flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay.
The OVP started distributing the first batch of PPE sets for some 1,000 frontliners on Monday, March 16.
“Patuloy ang pakikipag-ugnayan ng aming opisina sa Department of Health (DOH) upang matukoy kung aling mga ospital ang kailangan i-prioritize na mabigyan ng karagdagang PPEs (Our office continues to coordinate with the DOH to identify the hospitals to be prioritized in the distrubtion of additional PPEs),” the OVP statement read.
With the increasing number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the DOH is in dire need of funds to buy more PPE sets for some 5,000 government health workers working for 90 days.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III previously said that one PPE set costs P1,500, including headgear, goggles, an N95 mask, gloves, apron, and gown. That’s around P7.5 million for one PPE set for each of the 5,000 frontliners alone.
This was why the DOH has been asking Congress to augment the P530 million it currently has to fund efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. It has sought P2 billion more.
But the House committee on appropriations was only able to approve P1.65 billion worth of supplemental funds for the DOH, as this is the only amount available in the National Treasury.
Duque said on March 10 that the health department will have to source additional funds from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, which has committed to give the DOH an additional P2 billion, and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, which will be providing the agency with P420 million.
The COVID-19 outbreak has been worsening in the Philippines. From just 6 cases on March 7, the total number had reached 140 as of early Monday afternoon. Of the 140 cases, 12 patients have died.
Still, the DOH said two patients have already recovered from COVID-19, while another 5 cases who now have mild symptoms have been moved out of the hospital to undergo home quarantine instead.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Metro Manila under lockdown and gave the go signal to provinces, cities, and municipalities to put their respective areas under community quarantine as needed.
Duterte also declared a state of public health emergency in the Philippines. Several local government units have also declared a state of calamity due to COVID-19. – Rappler.com