Doctors have a "sworn duty" to serve the nation, the Department of Health said Friday, as it called on doctors in the countryside to volunteer as reinforcements in Metro Manila. Medical frontliners in the capital called for a timeout to avoid getting overwhelmed by fast-rising infections.
Barrio doctors have expressed concerns over serving in the National Capital Region, where a strict quarantine or MECQ was reimposed from Aug. 4 to 18, along with Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan.
"Kami po ay mga doktor, kami po ay nagtatrabaho sa gobyerno. May mga sinumpaan po kaming tungkulin at isa po diyan itaguyod ang kalusugan ng ating bayan, (We are doctors, we are working in government. We have sworn duties and one of them is to support the health of our nation,)" Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.
In July, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III ordered the reassignment of barrio doctors to Cebu City to help the then overwhelmed health system respond to COVID-19. Members of the Doctors to the Barrios program opposed this move then, and they continue to do so now.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Carissa Rulla from the Doctors to the Barrios Program said only 20 doctors are serving 400,000 people in Tawi-Tawi province, and these citizens are heavily reliant on their services.
"Sila 'yung mga tao na hindi pa nakakakita ng doctor, hindi pa nakakatikim ng healthcare services ng government. Kung ma-pull out kami sa areas namin, sino na ang maiiwan sa kanila? (These people have not seen a doctor, have not experienced healthcare services from the government. If we get pulled out from our areas, who will be left to serve them?)" she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
“Kung ipu-pull out natin [ang mga health worker], mas lalong kawawa po ang ating mga kababayan sa probinsya, lalo ngayon sa stage natin, hindi natin masasabing na-contain na ang pagkalat ng COVID-19 (If you pull us out, the situation for our fellow Filipinos in the province may worsen, especially at this stage, since we can’t say we’ve contained the spread of COVID-19),” she said.
Vergeire said the government would not abandon the doctors and barrios left behind. “Hindi namin sila papabayan (We will not abandon them),” she said.
She said the relocation would be on a voluntary basis and assured barrio doctors that should they move to the capital region, there are safety measures and protocols in place to ensure they don’t get infected.
Barrio doctors need not worry about the areas they handle, as other doctors would be sent to replace them.