Here’s how you can help tireless health workers and other COVID-19 frontliners

March 19, 2020 - 2:33 PM
Health care worker tests people at a drive-thru testing station run by the state health department, for people who suspect they have novel coronavirus, in Denver, Colorado, U.S. March 11, 2020. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart/File Photo)

Several Filipinos took to social media to seek donations for the needs of health workers in the front lines of the battle against the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Aside from monetary contributions, they are also calling for additional Personal Protective Equipment or PPEs, particularly face masks, alcohol and hand sanitizers.

Health and emergency frontline services are among those exempted from the work-from-home arrangement enforced in the enhanced community quarantine implemented over Luzon starting March 16.

This blanket measure covered the shutdown of public transportation and Transportation Network Vehicle Services Grab and motorcycle taxi services Angkas and Joyride. Some cities also imposed travel restrictions due to the surge of cases in their jurisdiction.

This, unfortunately, left many health workers out of their basic transport needs and acquiring other essentials for their work.

Filmmaker Kip Oebanda shared on Twitter a Google document of links where Filipinos can watch various films for free in exchange for donations for health workers and other frontliners.

An open letter from filmmaker Carl Chavez also calling for donations could be read in the same Google document.

The filmmakers provided the contact and bank details where Filipinos send in their donations.

“My fellow filmmakers and I are happy to share with you some of our short films that you can watch during this month-long community quarantine, and the good news is, you can keep yourself entertained with our films for free!” part of the letter read.

“In return, all we are humbly asking is for you to donate to our healthcare workers and frontliners so that they can be equipped with a sufficient supply of PPE (personal protective gear) and for the protection of the poor and the elderly,” he added.

Twitter user @s0rbetero, meanwhile, initiated a compilation of fund raising initiatives of private citizens and non-government organziations on the microblogging platform.

The tweets under this thread covered the needs of other communities affected by the quarantine rules. This include schools for the Lumads, health care, financial assistance and other aid for the elderly and the less fortunate.

A Facebook user, named Ben, meanwhile, compiled these initiatives through a Google sheet.

These include charity drives from non-government organizations Rock Ed Philippines, Young Filipino Advocates of Critical Thinking, Caritas Manila, and University of the Philippines Medical Foundation as well as alumni groups of UP and the University of Santo Tomas.

Others shared a screenshot of an excel file of the contact details of hospitals where suspected and confirmed cases had been admitted to.

Vice President Leni Robredo and other concerned citizens also recently launched “Libreng Sakay” efforts to help employees who still need to get to work, including health personnel, travel around the metro.

Her office also coordinated with Kaya Natin! Movement to organize a donation and fundraising campaign for PPE and care/food packs for health workers and frontliners fighting COVID-19.

The OVP is not accepting cash but they are coursing donations through electronic ticket equivalent to PPE Daily Set Ticket and Food and Care Pack Ticket.

The movement has now raised more than P20 million equivalent to over 42,000 PPE sets and 7,800 food and care packages.

Actress Bela Padilla,meanwhile, managed to raise P3.3 million in just three days through her campaign “Pagkain para sa Pinoy” to help street vendors affected by the lockdown.

A number of social media personalities composed of AC Soriano, Gigi Esguerra, Yani Villarosa, Hershey Neri, The Saranghae Oppa, among others, also launched a fund raising drive they dubbed “Gandang Bardagulan 2020.”

The group of content creators has raised more than P450,000 as early Thursday. The beneficiaries include frontline healthworkers, vendors, PUV drivers, elderly and homeless people of Manila Bay, among others.

Duties amid COVID-19 outbreak  

According to the World Health Organization, health workers and medical professionals are called “frontliners” because they are exposed to various hazards in taking care of patients who have acquired the new pathogen.

“Health workers are at the front line of any outbreak response and as such are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection with an outbreak pathogen (in this case COVID-19),” WHO said.

“Hazards include pathogen exposure, long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, and physical and psychological violence. This document highlights the rights and responsibilities of health workers, including specific measures needed to protect occupational safety and health,” it added.

Despite such risks, President Rodrigo Duterte failed to acknowledge them in his recent public addresses on the health crisis.

Duterte previously declared a nationwide state of calamity by invoking Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 for a period of six months.

He also issued Proclamation 929 which enjoined all government and law enforcement agencies to render their full assistance to combat the further spread of the new disease in the country.