A local health expert and a representative from the World Health Organization (WHO) said the Philippines has done a “good job” on its response against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) when compared to other countries.
In a Facebook post, Dr. Edsel Salvana, the director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health at the University of the Philippines Manila, said the Philippines has kept its deaths “much lower than countries with much more resources.”
This, despite the country maintaining an “open-door policy” for returning Filipinos for most of the pandemic.
“We did not lock out our returning Filipinos, unlike other countries. We did pay a price for it with the variants, but this was a humanitarian choice which is very Filipino – we take care of our own. Despite this, we were still able to keep deaths low,” Salvana said.
He noted that when comparing the Covid-19 response of different countries, “we should be honest and compare fairly.”
“The Philippines has done a good job, taking all the aspects of the response and limited resources into consideration,” Salvana said.
He cited Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to the Philippines, who said the Philippines “has done a good job.”
In an interview over ANC on Tuesday, Abeyasinghe said when looking at the Covid-19 response of different countries from the perspective of its income capacity, population size, and topographical challenges, the number of people having died from Covid-19 in the Philippines is “comparatively lower than many other countries” despite its “very limited capacities.”
“From that perspective, if you’re honest, it appears that the Philippines has done a good job,” Abeyasinghe said.
He noted that other countries have shut down their borders even to their own nationals amid the pandemic, whereas the Philippines has “welcomed its overseas Filipino workers.”
“With those people coming in, the virus comes in. So, you have to take all of that humanitarian angle in addition to the response and weight,” Abeyasinghe said.
He added that with the Philippines being a “middle-income country, you cannot expect it to have a first-world type of response.”
On June 28, Bloomberg released a story ranking the “best and worst places to be when the world finally reopens,” with the Philippines ranking poorly at 52nd out of the 53 countries on the list.Following its release, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the ranking was “unfair” and was “skewed” towards countries with a high vaccination rate – richer countries that have secured the bulk of the Covid-19 vaccine supply in the world.