Yes, the Philippine Government doesn’t rely much on data to come up with decisions. However, sticking to facts and science is a lesson the COVID-19 pandemic can teach Filipinos. Here are ten effective ways to fight COVID-19 which the Philippines should have done.
In a Health Issues episode, Executive Director of the UP-Resilience Institute Dr. Mahar Lagmay highlights the importance of data integrity; because we can use data as a basis for policymaking and policy decisions. Then, this is the first guiding principle for effective disaster risk reduction. According to Dr. Lagmay, the second principle is to use the data to make anticipatory plans and actions, not at the last minute, to address problems. This is what Dr. Jomar Rabajante, Dean of the UP Los Baños Graduate School, does to help the public. Moreover, he and his group have created epidemiological and socioeconomics models and provided strategies and recommendations for all sectors. Their work has been recognized by economists, financial people, and other decision-makers.
Meanwhile, for Prof. Peter Cayton, an associate professor of the School of Statistics in UP Diliman, the correct way of collecting, validating, and presenting data is to respect the people behind the numbers. Cayton is instrumental in crunching statistics and aiding the Department of Health in managing the COVID-19 data. Accordingly, he criticized the DOH regarding missing data, discrepancies between different sources, and sudden changes.
Effective Ways To Fight COVID-19
In an interview with AlterMidya, Prof. Cayton pointed out five things the Philippine government should do to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- First, there must be a national unified contact tracing system. It’s crucial, especially in improving the economic situation in the Philippines.
- Second, mass testing should be aggressive and progressive and up to the third degree. The government should triple or quadruple the testing efforts based on the suggestions of the World Health Organization’s guidelines.
- Third, increase the bed capacity and hospital staffing. Hospitals must improve the compensation system for the health personnel as they face the most significant risk of COVID-19.
- Fourth, the national government should accelerate the vaccination scheme. Our vaccines have to be highly effective and adequately peer-reviewed, so people can be confident about using these vaccines.
- Fifth, start aggressive sequencing of COVID-19 variants. The DOH should also keep track of the new variants and make the information available on their website.
Experts from the University of the Philippines System formed the UP COVID-19 Response Team. Their goal is to provide analyses, projections, and recommendations that help the government deal with the pandemic. Moreover, the team comprises bioinformatics experts, epidemiologists, statisticians, geographers, social scientists, psychologists, mathematicians, and other academicians.
Hopefully, we can apply the same principles in the future in the Philippines for other problems.