MANILA, Philippines – Nearly two years since the pandemic began, the Department of Health (DOH) is soon launching its own COVID-19 home care kit, called the Kalinga Kit, with the help of the private sector.
While the DOH has yet to distribute the kits, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) – using its own budget – has been distributing home care kits to COVID-19 patients since April 2021.
The DOH, in April 2021, was still planning a similar initiative in an attempt to decongest hospitals so that mild to moderate patients could be treated at home. (READ: Philippines’ COVID-19 surge tears through families)
In a press briefing on Tuesday, January 18, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH is drafting guidelines for distribution of the home care kit.
“As soon as possible, magdi-distribute na tayo (we will distribute). Katulad ng sinabi natin kanina, ang criteria natin sa pagbibigay, ibibigay po ito sa vulnerable population na nag-i-isolate at nagka-quarantine. Ipapatupad natin sa lalong madaling panahon. Inaayos lang natin ang ating guidelines,” she said.
(Just like what we’ve said earlier, our criteria for distribution, this will be given to vulnerable population who are isolating and under quarantine. We will implement this as soon as possible. We’re just drafting the guidelines.)
What’s inside the kits?
Unlike DOH’s Kalinga Kit, the OVP’s Care Kit contains more medical supplies.
Check them out, and compare, in the graphic below.
How are the kits funded?
Vergeire said that Kalinga Kits were made possible through partnerships with P&G, Unilab, and the World Health Organization. She added that the content of the kits will be “upgraded as the DOH continues to collaborate with the private sector to source more materials.”
In separate Viber message to Rappler, she said that the medicines were from the DOH while the other supplies were sourced from the private sector. She hasn’t replied yet when asked how much funds the DOH allotted for the home care kits.
In an interview with ANC’s Headstart on January 14, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was asking for “well-meaning companies” to help DOH to provide home kits to people. He said that the DOH had already put together close to 35,000 home care kits for distribution.
Meanwhile, the OVP had distributed a total of 11,191 home care kits as of January 17. The spokesperson of Vice President Leni Robredo, Barry Gutierrez, told Rappler that it’s the funds from Robredo’s office that’s being used to buy supplies for the home care kits.
Robredo said in April 2021: “One of our realizations was that most of our patients who are COVID-19 positive and doing home isolation are relieved that they get to talk to a medical doctor. But when doctors start asking them to monitor their symptoms and report them, they do not have thermometers and oximeters.”
The Philippines is experiencing fresh surge in infections due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. On Saturday, January 15, the country recorded its highest single-day tally of cases at 39,004. The Philippines now has over 3 million cases of the deadly virus. – with reports from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com