Senator Imee Marcos has assured nurses and hospitals that the government has the funds to address their pleas for more health care workers, personal protective equipment, and quarantine facilities.

As daily cases of Covid-19 reached a new high of 15,310, Marcos said at least Php33 billion was readily available to increase health care capacities and health worker protection, and to reduce joblessness especially among registered nurses including repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

““Tama na ang penitensya ng ating mga doktor, nars, at may sakit. Ilabas na ang GAA (General Appropriations Act) 2021 Contingent Fund under the Office of the President na Php13 billion, at yung calamity fund o NDRRMF (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund) na Php20 billion,” Marcos said on Black Saturday.

(Doctors, nurses, and the sick have done enough penitence. Bring out the Php13-billion Contingent Fund in the GAA 2021 under the Office of the President, and the calamity fund or NDRRMF of Php20 billion.)

“If we ever needed these emergency funds to pay health workers, buy medicines to treat the sick, and build facilities, it is now!” Marcos added.

Hospital staff are becoming overstretched due to the spike in Covid-19 cases which reached more than 15,000 in a single day, past a peak of 6,638 recorded by the World Health Organization on August 11, 2020.

Marcos lamented the delay in creating a medical reserve corps and increasing the domestic manufacture of medical equipment, both of which she proposed via Senate bills 1592 and 1708 in June and July last year.

“It would be useless to add more hospital beds and quarantine facilities without hiring more health care workers. The present crop is on the brink of fatigue, even depression, and may actually get sick,” Marcos said.

The senator cited that 110 of 180 employees of the Philippine Orthopedic Center have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

The ongoing vaccination of health care workers will also keep many of them on a two-week quarantine and put hospital capacities below optimum, Marcos also said.

Expected delays in vaccine deliveries due to AstraZeneca’s global supply problems and Pfizer’s additional demands on an indemnification agreement with the Philippines will also slow down the fight against Covid-19, the senator added.

At present, the country’s nurse-to-patient ratio stands at about 1:60, far from the Department of Health’s ideal ratio of 1:12.

“Nasa Diyos ang awa, pero nasa tao ang gawa. (God’s pity awaits human effort). Heed the warning signs and hire more health care workers now!” Marcos urged.