Better stock up: Bangsamoro region to get equipment vs COVID-19


COTABATO CITY – The National Task Force (NTF) against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is set to turn over to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) supplemental support equipment to strengthen its fight against the virus.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the country’s National Policy Against Covid-19, said Wednesday the NTF would hand over 4,000 sets of personal protective equipment, 4,000 N95 masks, 4,000 surgical masks, and 10,900 testing kits to hospitals in the region.

The NTF has met with the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Covid-19 during the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) in Cotabato City to assess the actual situation in the BARMM and the challenges faced by the region in implementing localized action strategies against the disease.

The CODE is a protocol for finding active cases through close coordination between the Department of Health (DOH) and local communities.
It is a patient- and community-focused response strategy with key elements incorporated from the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Test-Treat strategy.

Currently, the region has 597 Covid-19 cases, 449 of which have recovered, 133 are active cases, and 15 have died.

“We have learned that since the onset of the pandemic, the BARMM has focused on increasing the bed capacity of the region’s isolation facilities and health facilities,” Galvez said.

Each of the region’s five provinces has quarantine facilities that could cater to 4,500 individuals.

Hospitals in the region, meanwhile, have reserved 1,805 beds in their wards, isolation, and intensive care units for Covid-19 patients.

The Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City (CRMC) and the Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur are the two accredited testing laboratories in the BARMM.

“We ensure that our response and strategy (are) not only responsive but also collaborative,” BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim said.

The regional government has since sent home 23,207 returning overseas Filipinos and locally-stranded individuals to the region’s five provinces.

Covid-19 contact-tracing czar, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, however, said BARMM needs to enhance its contact tracing capacity to be proactive to the current situation in the region.

Magalong said the region should adopt a contact tracing system composed of interviewers, data encoders, data analysts, among others, for better and efficient contact tracing.

To date, the region has 631 contact tracing teams composed of 6,529 members.

The BARMM’s Ministry of Health, in coordination with the region’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Government’s Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence, has trained representatives of local government units on contact tracing. (PNA)