The government recognizes the psychological impacts of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic to the Filipino people and is beefing up efforts to address this, an official said on Tuesday.
“The psychological impact of the Covid-19 is very disastrous,” Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Policy Against Covid-19, said during the ceremonial launch of “Mask Para sa Masa” drive-in Valenzuela City.
Galvez, also the presidential peace adviser, said the government is also assessing the socio-psychological effects and other related factors of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
“Isa yun sa mga nakita namin at pinagusapan namin ni (That’s one thing we see and we have discussed it with) Secretary [Francisco] Duque na ‘yung (that the) psychological impact is not only for patients, but also by the LSI [locally stranded individuals], and also by the OFW [overseas Filipino workers],” he said, sharing cases of Covid-19 patients.
He said there is a need to strategize on how to address the unprecedented levels of emotional stress posed by the Covid-19 patients amid the health crisis, particularly the “feeling that they are being rejected” by their family and the community, because of infection.
“This pandemic has greatly affected us not only physically but also economically and emotionally,” he said.
On the other hand, Galvez noted that “prevention” is the most important response that people could always practice to halt the spread of the disease.
“As we see, the Covid-19 can be defeated by the health minimum standards that we have. We are trying to focus most of our health work on the prevention side,” he said, reiterating the most vital response to the pandemic is prevention.
As the country gradually reopens the economy, he said, people should learn to embrace the new normal which requires strict observance of health protocols within public places and workplaces.
“If you look at the paradigm or strategy that we have, the most important thing is really prevention,” Galvez said. “For as long as there is self-regulation, self-awareness and self-mastery [we can really protect our own selves, our families, and our community]. There’s should be a change of behavior.”
Galvez, meanwhile, noted that adopting specific prevention and safety measures recommended in workplaces including the proposed use of face shield could also help people protect themselves from the risks of infection.
“That’s is the only way that we can fight this virus. This can also prevent individuals from being infected,” he said.
Galvez said local government units (LGUs) play a significant role in implementing the health protocols and preventive measures to slow down the increasing number of Covid-19 cases within localities.
“Kahit gaano kaganda ang plano pero kapag hindi yan na-implement sa local, hindi yan na-implement sa barangay, hindi yan na-implement sa mga tao (No matter how good the plan is when it’s not implemented locally, it’s not implemented in the barangay level, it’s not implemented among people) at least, there’s no way we can win this fight,” Galvez said, noting that people’s participation is also vital in the pandemic’s responses.
Galvez lauded efforts being done by the Valenzuela city government to manage the coronavirus outbreak within their locality.
“The best lesson learned is really, leadership will make things happen. I believe with the leadership of our mayor, the leadership of our doctors here, I believe we can make things happen,” he said.
He said NAP is a complete strategy “but I believe the best way to do [this] is a kind of leadership that really can implement the plan.”
Valenzuela City’s efforts
Officials of the Covid-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) team, the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19, and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) visited Valenzuela City for the launch of the “Masks Para sa Masa program,” a government strategic plan which aims to provide about 30 million free face masks to Filipinos amid the health crisis.
The DOH also turned over hygiene kits and testing kits to the local government, which will be distributed to the residents.
At the sidelines of the visit, some barangay officials from 33 villages in the city took their oath as part of the “Barangay Bida Brigades” under the ‘BIDA ang may Disiplina’ campaign of the government.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the DOH earlier launched the “BIDA ang may Disiplina: Solusyon sa Covid-19” advocacy campaign to encourage public participation to combat the dreaded disease and further contain the local transmission within villages.
The Barangay Disiplina Brigades are composed of community members, including barangay officials and other village personnel, who are tasked to remind their constituents to adhere to the minimum health standards and call out the attention of those who violate health protocols.
The IATF, NTF, and the CODE team also visited the Valenzuela City mega contact tracing center and the Valenzuela Hope Molecular Laboratory.
The city government has recently opened its mega contact tracing center on August 18 to further enhance its contact tracing capacity amid the spike of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Complete with facilities and equipment similar to a call center set-up, Valenzuela’s mega contact tracing center is manned by 100 people who are tasked as data encoders, contact tracers, and disease surveillance officers.
The center runs with a contactless contact tracing scheme which uses a real-time software in the data-gathering processes.
Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said the local government is also eyeing to craft “in-house health protocols” to prevent Covid-19 transmission within the household. (PNA)