MANILA, Philippines — During a global health crisis like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, preventive health check-up is among the most affected.
The paper "Health Systems Impact of COVID-19 in the Philippines" by Diana Beatriz S. Bayani and Soon Guan Tan provided a "preliminary review on the collateral health systems impact of COVID-19 in the Philippines."
The authors wrote that travel restrictions and fear of contracting the virus as factors that affect the delivery of healthcare systems in the Philippines.
"Transport and border restrictions introduced by community quarantine measures have universally impacted health services access and delivery. Rapid surveys conducted by various agencies reflected reduced access to basic services and health facilities in the earlier phase of the pandemic," they wrote.
They continued, "Care seeking behaviors in both providers and patients have also changed as a result of NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) and the fear of contracting COVID-19. On the supply side, the measures to contain COVID-19 have siphoned away significant manpower and resources that provide routine essential services."
The study cited various reports such as National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) survey conducted from April 5 to 8, 2020 covering all regions in the Philippines with 47.6 percent from the National Capital Region. The survey's sample size was 389, 859.
The findings of the NEDA survey said that 38.5 % of respondents said that they encountered difficulty in accessing health facilities while 49.1% encountered difficulty in accessing pharmacies.
With these factors, doctors and healthcare professionals still call on the public to seek their advice for their medical concerns. As they often say, prevention is still better than cure.
Here are tips that doctors at the recent "Talk to Doc" roundtable discussion shared for those who are seeking to ask for their doctor's advice amid the pandemic.
A program supported by Boehringer Ingelheim, "Talk to Doc" aims to encourage patients to talk to doctors to get appropriate and timely care during the pandemic. Here are tips from the roundtable discussion led by Dr. Helen Ong-Garcia of St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City; Dr. Patrick Gerard Moral of University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine & Surgery, and Einstein Rojas of Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations:
Doctors recommend doing self-assessment especially when you think or feel there are underlying conditions. It is better to manage health conditions early on than wait for an emergency to happen.
Reconnect with your physician. If you still have to look for one, ask for referrals from your family and friends. They may already have trusted MDs to recommend. You may also call the hospital. Most often, the reception can give you options. The key is to reach the MD’s medical secretary.
Connect with the medical secretaries
They’ll guide you throughout your journey, until you get to consult with your physician. They’ll let you know the consultation schedule – either face to face, virtual, or both. They'll also be knowledgeable with other concerns such as the protocols for your online or face-to-face consultations.
Through virtual consultations like KonsultaMD, you can have 24/7 access to licensed physicians when you need to, and when you have to – no appointments needed. You can get unlimited access to KonsultaMD via subscription plans like Globe At Home’s Unli Fiber Up.
Jot it down
Make a list of the things that you want to consult and ask from your physician. If it’s a face-to-face visit, make sure to follow the Inter-Agency Task Force minimum health protocols. If it’s a virtual consultation, try to understand how the platform works. Make sure your audio is clear, the signal is stable, and your gadget is fully charged.
Follow your physician's advice
This is one golden rule, whether it be doing labs, taking meds, turning to a healthier lifestyle or checking back in for a follow-up consultation. Talking to your physician will not work if you do not follow the care he prescribed.
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