Too late? DOH draws flak for home care kit plan for mild COVID-19 cases

April 27, 2021 - 1:34 PM
A COVID-19 patient sits in a makeshift room inside a quarantine facility for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients in Manila, Philippines, April 15, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

The Department of Health just started planning the distribution of home care package for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms after the country recorded a total of more than a million COVID-19 cases.

Medical societies and some recovered COVID-19 patients advised fellow patients with mild symptoms or those asymptomatic to undergo home care amid continuous increase in COVID-19 infections that overwhelmed hospitals in the country.

In a briefing on April 26, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the kit from the national government will include basic health equipment such as a face mask and shield, a disinfectant, vitamins and paracetamol.

Vergeire also added that the DOH is in talks with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) about possible financial support.

She also stated that they will still check the budget if they can provide a pulse oximeter, another important home care item used to estimate blood oxygen levels, according to the Food and Drug Administration. 

“This home care package is part of our efforts to be able to redirect patients going straight to the hospitals, patients who are panicking that when they stay at home because they have mild or asymptomatic case, they are assured that they have these kits,” Vergeire said.

As of writing, the DOH has yet to finalize the plan to provide free home care kits for COVID-19 patients.

Some Filipinos online felt that this initiative of the national government came too late given the number of recorded COVID-19 cases more than a year into the public health crisis.

“It’s been a year and they’re still ‘developing’ (face palm),” one user said.

“After more than one year of lockdown, ‘developing a home care package for mild symptoms’ PALANG ang DOH. What happened to all the funds of Bayanihan 1 and 2,” another user wrote.

Last Monday, the country breached the one-millionth mark of COVID-19 cases after recording additional 8,929 more infections.

READ: Philippines records more than one million COVID-19 cases

This brought the total COVID-19 cases to 1,006,428.

Some online users, meanwhile, compared the DOH’s home care kit plan to the initiative of the Office of the Vice President. The OVP has been providing similar COVID-19 care kits to patients since early this month.

“I don’t get why they don’t wanna coordinate and work with VP Office na with the E-konsulta/COVID Care Package? Let’s go down our high horse and work together please. It’ll save more time, have more budget for it thus producing more for the people who need it,” one user said.

“Given all of the OVP’s initiatives to help address the pandemic, the least DOH could do is put credit where it is due,” another user wrote.

Vice President Leni Robredo launched Bayanihan E-Konsulta, a telemedicine project, to help fill the gaps of the public health care system amid the still raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Last April 10, Robredo announced that her office will also be providing care kits containing basic health care equipment such as a pulse oximeter, thermometer, face masks, vitamins and other medical supplies.

“Bilang bahagi ng suporta ng OVP sa mga COVID-positive patients na dumaan sa ating Bayanihan E-Konsulta service, nagpapadala rin ang ating tanggapan ng care kits para sa kanila,” the vice president said.

“Naglalaman ito ng thermometer, pulse oximeter, medical supplies, mga gamot at vitamins, face masks, disinfectant, gayundin ng monitoring sheet at isang guide kung para saan ang bawat item. Binuo natin ang care kits ayon sa rekomendasyon ng ating mga kinokonsultang doctor,” she added.