WHO, UNICEF back DOH in fight against COVID-19

The fight against the coronavirus is already transitioning into a new phase with new uncertainties, but the effective preventive measures stay the same, according to experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

In today’s (May 27) ​Beat COVID-19 Virtual Presser, Dr. Takeshi Nishijima from the WHO and Dr. Wigdan Madani from UNICEF discussed their organizations’ support for the Philippine government’s response to the pandemic and what the country should be doing at this critical turning point.

“We are seeing the new number of cases, which has stabilized a bit,” said Nishijima. “We are hoping it will decrease in the future, but I think we need to be prepared to continue what we are doing right now.”

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Nishijima reiterated the important role that infection prevention and control (IPC) measures and contact tracing have played in the global fight against COVID-19, stating, “it cannot be overemphasized, around the world that this is one of our main strategies to contain the COVID outbreak.”

The WHO representative stressed how vital it is for the public to continue effective IPC measures such as appropriate donning and doffing of PPEs, proper hygiene, cough etiquette, and physical distancing in order to prevent the further spread of the infection.

Acknowledging that the quarantine and lifestyle changes have had a heavy toll on the public, the WHO doctor noted that cooperation with public health officials and local governments will go a long way.

“It is not easy, as the time is getting long for us to be practicing all these things, however, I think it’s a very important moment for all of us to fight together against this outbreak,” said Dr. Nishijima. “The WHO is very much committed to supporting the Philippines and the DOH.”

More cooperation will make contact tracing much easier for government officials to contain the spread of the virus and keep more Filipinos safe, explained Dr. Nishijima.

Meanwhile, efforts to ensure the Philippines is safe against other pre-existing illnesses are not ignored. Dr. Madani discussed UNICEF’s several ongoing programs that are rolled out for both COVID and non-COVID health issues. The international organization is also supporting the government’s nationwide training for contact tracing, including the proper identification of signs and symptoms.

Working closely with the DOH’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Dr. Madani underscored that UNICEF is helping finalize the immunization guidelines for diseases such as polio and measles in the midst of COVID-19.

“We know that the COVID epidemic is affecting the children in many ways, and we are really working with the government and the DOH to ensure the safety of the children and the families, ”said Dr. Madani.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire recognized the instrumental support of different DOH partner organizations in keeping the pandemic at bay.

“Tandaan po nating bagong virus po ang ating kalaban, at walang kahit sinong bansa ang ganap na handa at mayroong kumpletong impormasyon ukol dito, kaya naman araw-araw po, mayroon tayong bagong natutuklasang kaalaman ukol dito,” said Vergeire. “Patuloy lang po ang ating pag-aaral upang makatuklas ng cure o lunas para sa COVID-19.” (DOH)

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