DOH’s COVID-19 home care package yet to be released months after announcement

August 14, 2021 - 1:16 PM
Mask and medicine
Face masks and a thermometer. (Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay)

The health department’s promised home care package for asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 patients will soon be available to the public, months after the first announcement.

The Department of Health on Wednesday said that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. is finalizing it and that the circular will be published by the end of August.

“PhilHealth is also in coordination with the DILG for the orientation of [Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams] nationwide this month in preparation for the package’s rollout,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

She also urged the public to have a thermometer, pulse oximeter and medicines in their homes in case someone gets infected with COVID-19.

A pulse oximeter is an instrument that measures one’s oxygen saturation level or the oxygen levels in one’s blood, crucial in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 which is a respiratory disease.

In April, the health agency announced it was developing a home care package for COVID-19 patients in an attempt to decongest hospitals. The initiative was launched more than a year into the pandemic.

The package would contain vitamins, paracetamols, face masks and face shields, alcohol and disinfection supplies, as well as monitoring tools such as thermometer.

It will also include a list of important contact numbers of local government units, as well as instructions on when to seek hospital help.

“This home care package is part of our efforts to be able to redirect patients going straight to hospitals, patients who are panicking and have this kind of fear when they stay at home because they have mild case or asymptomatic case,” Vergeire said before.

She added that the package will be linked with other processes such as telemedicine, navigation and triaging system of local governments, and the One Hospital Command Center.

The initiative previously drew flak from some Filipinos who accused DOH of only thinking about it more than a year into the pandemic.

A Twitter user on August 7 recalled the news on the COVID-19 home care package and wondered what had happened to it.

“Whatever happened to this? Do they really hand out care kit packages? Or VP Leni pa rin?” the user said, linking an article reporting on DOH’s announcement of developing it.

The Twitter user eventually found out that PhilHealth is still finalizing the packages four months after the announcement was made.

“Four months later, ‘The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. is finalizing its home care package for mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.’ FOUR FREAKIN’ MONTHS. STILL FINALIZING,” the user wrote.

“Ginagawa na ni Leni noon pang April,” the user added.

The Office of the Vice President (OVP) has been providing COVID-19 care kits to patients who are isolating at home since April.

These include different medicines, vitamin supplements, digital thermometer, pulse oximeter, waste disposal bag, face mask, alcohol and disinfectant.

The initiative is part of the OVP’s “Bayanihan E-Konsulta,” a telemedicine project that helps fill the gaps of the public health care system amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

“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,” Vice President Leni Robredo said before.

“Binuo natin ang care kits ayon sa rekomendasyon ng ating mga kinokonsultang doctor,” she added.