WHO, UNICEF back DOH IN COVID-19 fight


THE World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund have expressed their support for the Department of Health’s response to the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO’s Dr. Takeshi Nishijima and UNICEF’s Dr. WigdanMadani 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, adding that the fight against the coronavirus is already transitioning into a new phase with new uncertainties, but the effective preventive measures stay the same.

“We are seeing the new number of cases, which has stabilized a bit. 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,” he said.

Nishijima reiterated the important role that infection prevention and control 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. The WHO is very much committed to supporting the Philippines and the DOH,” he said.

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

Meanwhile, efforts to ensure the Philippines is safe against other pre-existing illnesses are not ignored, with Dr. Madani discussing 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, 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,” he said.