My Facebook memories showed that a year ago today, the provincial government addressed the call of Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH) for more Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
A year ago, CLMMRH uploaded a video with #TargetZero and I shared it because my niece, EmEm, a nurse at the hospital, was among those featured.
A year ago, the partnership between public and private hospitals was admirable after St. Luke’s Medical Center donated to the Philippine General Hospital several beds, infusion pumps and pledged P10 million worth of supplies.
A year ago, the city PIO posted pictures of Bacolod Mayor Bing Leonardia inspecting the Respiratory Out-Patient center at the BAYS Center to ease congestion at emergency rooms and OPDs in hospitals.
Same day, last year, Gov. Bong Lacson converted the Yolanda housing project as a PUI facility while the Provincial Administration Building was converted into sleeping quarters for hospital workers.
A year ago, the Covid Warriors of Negros, led by the indefatigable Pinky Mirano Ocampo used social media to collect essentials like shower caps, soaps, shampoos and even snorkeling mask as makeshift PPEs to protect our medical workers.
So much has happened since then. We found ourselves locked down for weeks. Statistics became people we know and we stormed heaven with prayers for relatives and friends who were, in one way or the other, got affected by COVID-19.
Months later, we thought the worse was over. Bacolod and Negros Occidental were able to taper the number of cases. We joyfully cheer when we have zero cases. We got used to wearing face masks, shields and staying home.
Scientists were pressed to discover vaccines and even before the year ended, vaccines were launched and other parts of the world started theirs en masse. We in the Philippines meanwhile, were still discussing which vaccines to procure and where to get the money to purchase such.
And while the government was clearly in a mess, the private sector was bullish to end this nightmare and offered, not just a helping hand to the government, but their elbows and arms as well when they signified that for every vaccine they buy for themselves and their employees, there will be another for the masses. Bayanihan was evident from testing kits to vaccine purchases from the private sector.
Fast forward today.
Many countries have vaccinated millions of their people. The World Health Organization, Unicef, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, among other organizations created COVAX which stands for COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access which aims for equitable access to vaccines, especially by poor and developing countries.
This was after WHO insisted that the world could end up in a “catastrophic moral failure” if poorer countries are left behind in the vaccination race. There too is the possibility that the virus can mutate into strains that may not be resolved by existing vaccines.
True enough, we already have other strains like the UK, the South African variant, the Brazilian, Hong Kong and recently, our very own Philippine strain that was discovered in Central Visayas.
This March, we officially started vaccinating those on DOH’s priority list through the Sinovac vaccines earlier donated by the Chinese government and the Astra Zeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility. The biggest contributor to that facility is the US government that pledged $4 Billion along with Germany, the United Kingdom and other developed nations and private donors.
Last Monday, after his much-publicized birthday, the President and his men personally accepted the one million Sinovac vaccines from China purchased by the national government for P700 million.
What is interesting is the fact that acceptability for vaccine rollout remains very low. A friend who chatted with a BHW who are going house-to-house to register residents for the rollout admitted that they are having a hard time convincing the masses, particularly 4Ps recipients.
I belong to Barangay Villamonte and while most of my friends said they were already visited by their barangay for the vaccine survey, we have not seen anyone from our barangay yet.
Despite the fact that there are over 128 million COVID cases globally and 2.8 million deaths, including our country’s record-breaking 10,000 cases in a day, it is frustrating to read the reactions of people who continue to believe that COVID will not affect/infect them.
This is probably because our own government downplays the severity of this pandemic with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque saying, “maliit na bagay lang yan.” Add to that the “fake news” that continue to proliferate on supposed dangers of getting vaccinated or home remedies that will make them invincible to the virus and some just out of sheer irresponsibility.
We have been kept in the dark of some cases here such as children of rich people that partied and resulted in mass infection of those who attended. Or the group of young kids that went to Boracay and came home positive, belatedly informed by one of them that he was infected when they left.
The national government promised that by mid-year, mass vaccination will be on the roll but with vaccines coming in trickles, those will again become broken promises.
But finally, Monday night we heard an overwhelmed president admit that he is near tears of the situation we are in. Drama or not, the best part of that announcement was when Duterte ordered the government to finally allow the private sector to bring in their own vaccines in light of complaints that the government vaccination campaign is so slow.
Of course, with the law in place that one has to go through the national government to purchase and since there is no approval for commercial distribution of the vaccines that is probably just all talk again.
Three months, six months, next year, Pinas kaya pa ba?*