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Health Emergency Response: The Philippine Setting

2 May 2022
Health Emergency Response The Philippine Setting

What comes first to mind when you hear about a health emergency? You may think of accidents, injuries, and illnesses. But how about the spread of diseases, is it considered an emergency too? They too are considered an emergency–health emergency.

 

With the light of the recent pandemic, health emergencies do not just deal with the instant effects on human life, but rather, they also include long-lasting effects, not only to an individual but to the society to which he or she belongs.

 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the Philippines’ Health Emergency Response and how we can partake in protecting ourselves, and our families in times of a health emergency.

 

WHAT IS A HEALTH EMERGENCY?

A study published by the American Journal of Public Health defines a health emergency as a situation “whose scale, timing, or unpredictability threatens to overwhelm routine capabilities.”

 

It is when an emerging situation can have the potential to cause harm to the health of an individual, which can hamper his or her capabilities to do work. 

 

It becomes a public health emergency when instead of just an individual who suffers the health consequences of being exposed to health hazards, the community members and the population health suffer from the same symptoms.

 

An example of a public health emergency is the COVID-19 virus which eventually turned into a global pandemic. 

 

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY RESPONSE IN THE PHILIPPINES

The World Health Organization (WHO) states public health emergencies can arise from a wide range of cases, including outbreaks of contagious, life-threatening diseases, natural disasters such as flooding and typhoons, and chemical contamination of the environment and radiation.

However, the Philippines is no stranger to disasters and natural calamities, even high-impact emerging diseases. Among the dreaded public health emergencies, the Philippines experienced were the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the AH1N1 outbreak in 2009.

 

WHAT ARE THE THREE STEPS IN EMERGENCY RESPONSE?

 As part of the public health response, the Philippine government structured and implemented several initiatives to promote the management, development, and coordination of their support to combat public health emergencies such as disease outbreaks.

 

Among their efforts incorporate public health emergency preparedness, which includes disease control, human services, and emergency responses.

Some known initiatives that serve as part of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response are:

 

1. Awareness: National Emergency Preparedness Day

President Fidel V Ramos via Proclamation No. 705, declared December 6 of each year as National Health Emergency Preparedness Day.

 

Under the proclamation, several government agencies such as the Department of National Defense (DND), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Philippine Youth Commission, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) must cooperate to promote the importance of health emergency preparedness.

 

This nationwide awareness campaign can be done through a series of skills training, and imposing observance of public respect for laws, and ordinances concerning public safety and health.

 

2. Policy Response: Medical Reserve Corps Act

Lawmakers also proposed a bill focusing on public health emergencies. House Bill 8999, also called the Medical Reserve Corps Act, proposes to create a reserve of medical professionals who can deal specifically with public health emergencies. 

 

These public health practitioners include licensed physicians, medical students who have completed four years of the medical course, graduates of medicine, registered nurses, and licensed allied health professionals who may be called upon to assist the national government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and local government units (LGUs) in the discharge of their functions in addressing the medical needs of the public.

 

Retired Licensed physicians, medicine graduates, medical students, registered nurses and other allied public health professionals who are no longer practicing in the hospital setting can also be part of the MRC. As of time of writing, it has passed its third and final reading in the House of Representatives. 

 

3. Action: Creation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)

On March 30, 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte mandated the creation of the Inter-Agency Task Force.

 

It will act as a leadership team composed of government officials and representatives from nongovernmental organizations who will be in charge of the emergency management of pandemic preparedness and response of the Philippines to the COVID-19 virus. 

 

They are tasked to develop guidelines based on a science-based approach in determining the parameters of quarantine implementation, response capacity, and response activities needed for the prevention of the spread of the pandemic as well as to prepare essential tools and systems for the recovery of communities.

 

Part of their emergency management responsibilities includes the planning of the distribution of 'disaster medicine', or vaccine received from other countries.

 

If you still remember, we were given strict guidance on how we can avoid the disastrous health impacts of COVID-19. Among the said guidelines are:

  • Wearing face shields and face masks to avoid getting possible hazardous materials and other elements on our person.
  • Practicing Social Distancing in a public engagement, or an event that occurs in public.
  • Staying at home to quickly respond to your family's needs and protect them from the COVID-19 disaster.

 

FAMILY FIRST: CREATING A SAFE HAVEN FOR YOUR FAMILY AT HOME

Most of us were forced to stay for extended periods of time within the confines of our homes due to the pandemic. Technically, we still need to stay at home as much as possible, except for those who need to return to the office and conduct business.

 

However, it is inside the home where we can feel we can be most taken care of, not only in terms of our physical health but our mental health as well. We can pool our resources within the family and ensure the safety of every member.

 

That's why the importance of the availability of essential services, such as public health preparedness and response services must be considered in buying a residential house and lot for you and your family.

 

With Lumina, you can choose from our sites located within or near key municipalities and cities all over the Philippines so you know that should there be an emergency, you can easily seek assistance and response from the authorities

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