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Galvez: Philippines unable to prepare health facilities for COVID-19

According to National Task Force COVID-19 chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., the country was unable to prepare and invest in its health facilities to meet the demands of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 pandemic.

During a press briefing, Galvez noted how certain regions in the country do not even have a level 3 hospital, which has only choked existing health systems. He also emphasized how it would have taken three to four administrations to beef up the nation’s capacity.

“Ang medyo mahirap na nakita natin dito sa atin ‘yung behavioral culture na ng mga tao natin, nakita natin ang daming mga violations,” Galvez said. “‘Yun ang nakikita natin na isa sa mga hindrances at challenges natin.”

(“What’s hard is seeing our people’s behavioral culture; we saw many violations. These are the hindrances and challenges that we see.”)

Galvez also warned how Filipinos’ behavior and culture make it difficult for the country to deal with the health crisis, due to the sheer number of recorded violations. This is why the Philippines is lagging behind its neighboring Southeast Asian countries which have already successfully managed the virus with fewer cases.

As Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) started to repatriate, Galvez said the funds that should have been used for the testing of local government units (LGUs) were used to manage the OFW-related expenses.

On July 30, the government announced its plans of making adjustments to its contact tracing process as only one percent of 600 LGUs were found to be implementing appropriate systems for it.

Appointed contact tracing czar Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong noted a lack of data encoders, analytics, and standardization for the contact tracing methodologies. Magalong has collected information via online surveys and has also conducted seminars for Metro Manila’s LGUs.

In an interview, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) spokesman Jonathan Malaya said it still needs additional funds to hire 50,000 more contact tracers.

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