MANILA – The first batch of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies from China procured by the Department of Health (DOH) for health workers battling the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) arrived at the Villamor Airbase on Tuesday night.
DOH Undersecretary Roger Tong-an said this is the first tranche of the one million sets of PPE worth PHP1.8 billion bought for medical front-liners who are treating identified Covid-19 patients throughout the country.
The protective gears, he said, will be distributed to all private and public hospitals as soon as possible to ensure the safety of every medical worker from the risks of the dreaded virus.
He added that regional hospitals will also be receiving PPE supplies, especially those health facilities that are running low with personal protective suits.
Each set includes headcover, coverall, gloves, N95 masks, shoe cover, surgical mask, goggles, and a surgical gown.
Tong-an said the PPE are projected to last three to six months from its arrival to the country.
He added that the remaining protective gears will arrive between April 6 to 24.
Prioritizing Covid-affected zones
Tong-an said those hospitals that are considered “Covid zones” or the ones handling critical Covid-19 patients will be prioritized in the provision of complete sets of PPE.
In an online press briefing on Wednesday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the DOH will work with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of the National Defense (DND) to ensure the prompt delivery of PPE to the front-liners on the ground.
Aside from PPE supplies, Nograles said the government is doing its best to maximize the front-liners’ equipment.
He said the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) is spearheading the production of 500,000 reusable, washable and re-wearable facial masks.
“While the government works to fully equip our medical workers, it is at the same time ramping up efforts to secure and produce more testing kits (so) we can test more people and quickly identify and isolate those that have been infected,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tong-an said the PPE underwent a procurement process from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with the most complete type of PPE inside the set.
“Kasi yung mga ibang manufacturers dito tingi-tingi yung procurement namin, kunyari pwedeng magbigay lang ang manufacturers ng 600 lang na masks tapos 200 na goggles. Kaya yung mga dumarating sa mga hospitals natin hindi kumpleto, so at least ito kumpleto, may eight items inside with a complete set (Because some manufacturers here provide us with retailed procurement, for an instance, the manufacturer can supply us with only 600 masks and 200 goggles. (So) those items provided to the hospitals are not complete, at least this time there are eight items inside with a complete set),” he said.
He said each complete set of PPEs cost PHP1,750 bought under the government-to-government procurement between the Philippines and China.
He said bidders from the country were invited during the bidding process but they cannot provide the eight items needed for a complete set of PPE gear.
“May nagsasabi nga na may mabibilhang mas mura, pero sana ituro nila kung saan kami bibili nung mura na yan na makakapagbigay ng complete set na nandun lahat yung walong items (There were those who said cheaper ones can be bought, but it would be better if they tell us where to buy those cheaper PPE that could provide us a complete set containing all those eight items)” he said.
“Unahin na lang natin yung buhay ng ating mga health workers bago tayo mag-usap tungkol dyan (Let’s prioritize the lives of our health workers before arguing about the costs). We cannot find any manufacturer to provide a complete set like this,” he added.
Maj. Aristides M. Galang, Philippine Air Force spokesperson, said PAF personnel are tasked to transport the procured PPE embarking a C-130 plane.
Upon departure and arrival, Air Force personnel, he said, will be secured against the risks of Covid-19 by observing proper disinfection method.
The personnel will also undergo a 14-day quarantine period. (PNA)