OPAV underscores role of barangays amid Covid 19 threat

There is a need to organize the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTS) as the first line of defense against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid 19).

In a press conference in Hotel Del Rio here on Wednesday, following his meeting with government agencies to discuss preparations of Western Visayas, Assistant Secretary Gerard Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) Special Concerns Officer for Region 6, said he was happy that they are well prepared and doing their best to handle the situation.

However, he was worried that Bacolod City, has only organized 17 BHERTs out of its 61 barangays.

Of all the areas in Region 6, only Bacolod needs to aggressively organize its BHERTs because that is what is important now, he said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government mandates the creation of the BHERT for every 5,000 population.

It is composed of an executive officer, a barangay tanod, and two barangay health workers, one is preferably a nurse or a midwife to be appointed by the barangay chairman.

The BHERT shall conduct home visits in houses of persons, who recently arrived from Covid 19 affected countries, and immediately list down the person/s the newly returned residents who came in contact with prior to arrival in the residence.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that Iloilo, Antique and Guimaras, and Iloilo City already completed the creation of BHERTs in all their barangays.

In Negros Occidental 590 out of 601 barangays have organized BHERTs, 271 out of 327 in Aklan and 416 out of 473 in Capiz.

He added that their office will be writing letters to all local government units that after organizing the BHERT, they should immediately purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and gun type scanner so they won't have contact with the possible patient.

DOH regional director Marlyn Convocar said that they are ready to extend capability building training to members of BHERTs and augment the PPEs that they need.

As of February 12, there are 29 patients under investigation (PUIs) but only eight remain admitted. The rest were found to be negative of the Covid 19.

The eight who are admitted are all improving, she said. Bacolod City, Antique, Capiz and Negros Occidental have one PUI each while four are in Iloilo province.

During the meeting, Gonzales also heard the preparations of the Bureau of Quarantine, Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP), and the Department of Tourism (DOT).

He said there will be a Cabinet meeting next month while the Cabinet assistance system will meet this Feb 22 in Zamboanga.

Among the concerns he will raise are the need for two ambulances of the Bureau of Quarantine in Aklan and in Iloilo to transport possible PUI and the national directive for the utilization of a health declaration card.

He added that his visit to Iloilo was meant to assure that the government is ready in responding to the threat of the virus.

Source: Philippines News Agency