What the country needs right now are more contact tracers and not political supporters nor an army of trolls

Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon made the comment after the Health Department asked for an additional P11.7 billion budget for the hiring of 130,000 contract tracers.

Drilon said the Department of Health (DOH) can tap into an P18-billion fund to hire contact tracers from existing network of barangay health workers, parent-leaders from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs

“There are funds made available from the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to boost our contact tracing capability. The new Bayanihan law made sure that the three T’s (test, trace and treatment) will have ample support and funding. Huwag na po nating haluan ng pulitika ang contact tracing. DOH,” Drilon said.

“The DOH should just mobilize around 400 thousand barangay health workers and parent-leaders from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to carry out contact tracing. They can do contract tracing with ease and efficiency because of their familiarity with the place rather than hiring a new army of contact tracers,” he added.

Drilon said the DOH may use the fund to engage contact tracers but urged the agency to use available technology and networks of volunteers to boost its contact tracing efforts.

Drilon also said he proposed an amendment for a more efficient and cost-friendly contact tracing by maximizing the use of the technology.

“The contacts of COVID-19 patients should be immediately and properly traced through the use of efficient technology for data collection and analysis,” Drilon said, citing Baguio City’s effective use of technology for contact tracing.

Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the DOH should just drop the proposal and instead devote the money they are asking for for the treatment of COVID-19 patients instead.

“It will be wiser and more practical to divert the P11.7 billion for the treatment of patients. We need funds to treat our sick kababayans. Mas mahalagang gamitin na lang ang pondong ito para sa pagbili ng mga gamot at medical equipment na makakatulong sa paggaling ng mga pasyente,” he said.

Sotto added that the Health Department to be more “prudent” on how to use the country’s funds.

“You cannot just deploy anyone to do the job. Contact tracing can only be effective if you use people who are trained in investigation like how they handled it in Baguio. If the DOH hires people who have no experience in investigation, then the program is practically useless,” he added. (Rommel F. Lopez)