Health workers blast gov’t for passing burden of COVID-19 testing to private sector

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MANILA, Philippines —The Alliance of Health Workers lambasted the national government for having “no program” for COVID-19 mass testing and leaving it up to the private sector to pay for the detection of the disease in their employees.

There have been three extensions of the lockdown in the Philippines. The first one was supposed to end on April 12, with the government announcing that it would start mass testing on April 15. But to date, it has not done any mass testing.

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“We are so disgusted with government’s privatized response in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic while abandoning its state responsibility for health workers’ safety and people’s right to public health. Massive testing was crucial to seeing the true picture of transmission in the country but it was never done promptly,” Robert Mendoza, R.M., national president of the AHW, said in the group’s Facebook post on Friday.

Mendoza also decried the pronouncement of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III that the curve had flattened despite the government’s lack of testing and contact tracing.

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As of Saturday, the Department of Health has recorded 13,777 confirmed cases of COVID-10 nationwide with 863 deaths and 3,177 recoveries.

The group also questioned where the supposed P75 billion that was allocated for health services went to after Congress allowed President Rodrigo Duterte to use P275 billion in for COVID-19 response.

“Despite all this, we know that Congress has allocated P275 billion for COVID response, of which P75 billion is for health response,” Mendoza said. “The question is where is the allocated fund now? Why does the government pass its responsibility to private profiteers and carry on the burden of paying hospital bills from the working people through their PhilHealth contributions?”

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For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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