Eastern Visayas

340 health workers in Eastern Visayas infected with COVID-19 since March 2021

Art Lubiano
DOH regional director Exuperia Sabalberino says that infection among health workers represents a breach in infection prevention and control measures

The Department of Health in Eastern Visayas said 340 medical workers in the region have been infected with the COVID-19 virus since March this year.

DOH regional director Exuperia Sabalberino told Rappler that infection among health workers represents a breach in infection prevention and control (IPC) measures.

It worsens conditions in a weak healthcare system and leads to an increase in demand for manpower, she added.

“With this, it could spread the workload among few health workers leading them to stress and burnout,” Sabalberino said.

“A tired health worker has the potential to make more mistakes and the things that would be intuitive often take more thought when you are tired,” she warned. (READ: Cebu’s COVID-19 personnel woes worsen as medical workers fall ill)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), even before COVID-19 hit, medical professionals were already under strain. 

“A review of health workers in China and Singapore found that one in four reported depression and anxiety, and one in three suffered from insomnia during COVID-19,” WHO said.

Sabalberino also said that the decline in manpower could also lead to delayed direction and decision making, delayed issuance of policies, and decreased efficiency in facility setup and processes, compromising service to patients.

Push for urgent action

“The physical and mental exhaustion of the health workers with extreme overtime and shift work schedules, and the growing backlog [in] healthcare procedures due to unavailability of a healthcare provider, could make our health system scramble due to shift changes,” the DOH official said. (READ: Philippine hospitals already feeling the rise of the Delta variant cases)

Sabalberino said governments are responsible for critical aspects of containment measures, health care, social services, economic development, and public investments.

“It is best to ensure the health and safety of our healthcare workers, for them to provide the best care possible for the patient,” she said, noting that Eastern Visayas faces other health challenges aside from COVID-19.

“If not properly addressed through policy, the social crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic may also increase inequality, discrimination, and delayed access of resources required by patients and a wide range of unemployment and poverty in the medium and long term,” Sabalberino added. – Rappler.com

Art Lubiano is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the 2021 Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.