This week, no healthcare professional has been vaccinated in the Philippines. Fear and anxiety are growing and lead many of these professionals to take vacations or to resign for not being vaccinated against covid-19.
Some Filipino health professionals have revealed to the NPR that many colleagues are taking vacations or even resigning for not having been vaccinated against covid-19, at a time when the country is facing a serious public health crisis, following the covid-19 pandemic.
Rodrigo Duterte, President of the country, admits that there is currently “a dispute” for vaccines against SARS-Cov-2 and, although the future looks a little more promising, there are drawbacks.
The Philippines is preparing for the arrival of its first vaccines against covid-19 and Duterte has already confirmed the country’s frozen storage capacity, indicating that delivery will take place by the end of the month.
The country will receive the first doses of the vaccine Pfizer at a reduced price, thanks to the initiative of the World Health Organization, COVAX. The program was born to ensure that the dispute over vaccines among rich countries does not harm the poorest countries and will help 92 countries.
A spokesperson for Task Force for covid-19 from the Philippines told the NPR that the 117,000 doses of the vaccine (of two doses) that COVAX provided arrive just to vaccinate 56,000 of the approximately 1.7 million health professionals leading the country’s priority list.
Charles Marquez, a community doctor on the island of Mindanao, revealed to the portal that many frontline workers are very afraid. Doctors and nurses are putting their lives at risk daily to save patients with covid-19 and, at the same time, are fighting against “fatigue, depression and stress“.
Marquez also revealed that the stress of working in such a “dangerous environment” has damaged the health of many of his colleagues. There are health professionals who call just to let them know they are sick – not because they are infected with the virus, but because of “stress and anxiety”.
In addition, “health professionals lost confidence in the Government“. The statements are by Willy Pulia, president of the Alliance of Philippine Workers. The official added that the people who develop the vaccine policy “are not the right people to deal with this pandemic.”
Health professionals also express concerns about the Chinese vaccine Sinovac. Currently, only Pfizer has received emergency use authorization in the Philippines.
The country has guaranteed 25 million doses of the Chinese manufacturer, and a small shipment is expected to arrive this month. However, the company has not released detailed efficacy data or shared findings through an international peer review. The lack of transparency left Filipino health professionals uneasy.
What is certain is that the pandemic exposed years of underinvestment in public health in the Philippines, which encouraged medical professionals in the country to seek better-paying jobs abroad. The result has been a acute shortage of professionals in the country.
Liliana Malainho, ZAP //