Malacañang is hoping to see more local government units (LGUs) providing telemedicine and telehealth services for patients who tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, said some, if not all, Metro Manila LGUs have provided telemedicine services and urged other LGUs to do the same.
“Here in Metro Manila, you will see most, if not all, of our LGUs have a telemedicine or telehealth hotline. That is the ideal that we want to be replicated in other provinces and cities and that’s what we’re pushing for,” he said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart on Monday.
Nograles said some wealthier LGUs currently provide Covid-19 home care packages similar to the ones provided by the Office of the Vice President.
He urged LGUs outside Metro Manila to also consider providing free telemedicine services and if possible, Covid-19 home care packages with the start of the implementation of the Supreme Court’s Mandanas ruling expanding local governments’ share in national taxes.
“The LGUs can on their own, especially with the Mandanas ruling wherein mas malaki na yung budget na makukuha ng LGUs (LGUs will get a bigger budget) this year, then all the more reason for the LGUs to also integrate that into the telehealthcare that they’re giving their constituents,” he added.
LGUs are currently the biggest beneficiaries of the PHP5.024-trillion national budget for 2022, getting a PHP959.04 billion share through their National Tax Allotment, formerly called the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The huge increase was due to the implementation of the Mandanas ruling which determined that the “just share” of LGUs shall be sourced from “all national taxes and not only national internal revenue taxes.”
“As far as [Department of Health] is concerned, because siyempre mayroon ding (of course there is also a) delegation of functions, and healthcare is one of those delegated functions of the LGUs. Hopefully, the LGUs can come in and help us also in this regard,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nograles said it will also be the LGU as well as local health officers to determine whether asymptomatic or mild Covid-19 patients within their localities should isolate at home or be transferred to local isolation facilities.
“We have to entrust to the LGUs the wisdom in their decisions in terms of patient navigation…It will always have to be in consultation with LGUs. But on the ground, it’s LGUs who must be trained, who must be knowledgeable enough to know how to navigate the patients because it’s not a one-size-fits-all rule,” he said.
“They have their own local health officers also and that’s where the coordination between the local health officer and the DOH come in,” he added.
Currently, DOH Covid-18 Hotlines 1555 and 02-886-505-00 or a list of regional hotlines through bit.ly/OHCCHotline are available nationwide for all Covid-19 related concerns including consultations.
Persons with health concerns may also talk to licensed doctors via call or video call through DOH-vetted third-party telemedicine service providers at https://bit.ly/DOHTelemedicine. (PNA)