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The Office of the Vice President (OVP) has launched its latest initiative, Bayanihan E-Konsulta, a free teleconsultation service on Facebook and Messenger for outpatient cases for the National Capital Region and nearby provinces or “NCR Plus.”
In a Facebook Live video on Wednesday, April 7, Robredo said the OVP’s free teleconsultation service aims to help decongest hospitals following the record-high spike in coronavirus cases in the country.
“Ang ating matutulungan po natin dito ay ‘yung mga outpatients, ‘yung hindi kailangan ng hospitalization. Nagseself-isolate lang sa bahay pero kinakailangan may makausap na doktor,” said Robredo.
(The ones we can help are outpatients, those who don’t need to be hospitalized. They are the ones who are self-isolating themselves at home but need to consult with a doctor.)
The COVID-19 surge has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the “NCR Plus” bubble – which includes Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite – under the strictest enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for the second straight week.
Social media feeds have since been filled with posts of people scrambling to look for a hospital bed for their sick family members or friends now that hospitals in NCR Plus are full.
Bayanihan E-Konsulta is conducted with the help of volunteer doctors and health professionals following a screening process done by volunteers for its call center. This free service aims to aid those who cannot afford to access medical services or other existing teleconsult platforms.
Robredo said the Bayanihan E-Konsulta is not just restricted to COVID-19 patients, since those experiencing other diseases may avail of the free teleconsultation services as well.
Robredo said the comment section on Bayanihan E-Konsulta was disabled to ensure that the page will be used solely for medical consultations. She added that if the public has any inquiries or suggestions, these should be coursed through her official Facebook page, VP Leni Robredo.
More than 2,300 medical and non-medical volunteers have signed up for Bayanihan E-Konsulta.
The OVP said that while the office operated on a small budget, Robredo thought about the initiative amid pleas from families with members who need medical help, and reports of overloaded hospitals.
“Ito pong ginagawa natin, attempt po ito na kahit paano makatulong tayo maka-decongest ng mga hospitals. Na iyong mga pasyente, whether COVID or non-COVID, na hindi naman kailangang ma-hospitalize, at least kahit nasa bahay lang sila, mayroon silang medical help na matatanggap,” Robredo said.
(What we’re doing is an attempt to help – in whatever way we can – decongest hospitals so that patients, whether COVID or non-COVID, who don’t need to be hospitalized and can at least stay at home, can receive medical help.)
The OVP said it will refer emergency cases to the One Hospital Command, in line with existing guidelines.
Apart from the free teleconsultation services, Robredo also recently launched a mobile antigen testing program called “Swab Cab” in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates, beginning with Malabon City.
As of Tuesday, April 6, the Philippines has recorded a total of 812,760 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 152,562 are active. A total of 13,817 have died due to COVID-19 in the country. – Rappler.com
Christina Quiambao is a 4th year journalism student from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She is a Rappler intern.