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COVID-19 War: 70K Physicians vs 109M Filipinos

Why we need to slowdown the spread of COVID-19


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COVID-19 War: 109M Population vs 70K active medical allied physicians in PH

 

To help slowdown the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Filipinos must stay at home. This article will allow you to better understand the healthcare infrastructure of the Philippines and why the Philippine government took a drastic measure by implementing “community quarantine”.

Filipino Physicians versus PH Population

According to The Philippine Medical Association, there are 130,000 licensed physicians in the country, but only 70,000 are active in the profession. Most of doctors, nurses, mid-wives and medical allied professionals are working overseas due to lucrative compensation packages being offered by other countries.

 

We currently have (est) 70,000 active doctors, nurses, mid-wives and other medical allied professionals who are at the forefront of the battle against the dreaded COVID-19.

However, if you compare the number of doctors and nurses in China, Philippines will dwarf. China has 3.61 million registered doctors and  4.1 million registered nurses. When the new coronavirus peaked in China, there are hundreds of thousands of doctors who are in the battle ground with complete PPEs and medical supplies.

Philippine Healthcare Infrastructure

As of 2018, the total number of hospital beds increased from 79,444 in 2001 to 101,688 in 2016. These beds are owned and operated almost equally between the public and private sectors. There was a relatively higher share in the number of beds owned by the public sector in the earlier years with a 53.5% share in 2003. The share of the public sector in total hospital beds started declining since 2011 and in 2016, the share of the public sector is at 47% (Figure 4.2). The beds in the private sector increased from 50 045 in 2014 to 54 317 in 2016, contributing to an increase in the sectoral share from 50.9% to 53.4%.

Philippine hospital beds can only accommodate up-to 1,425 patients (in total). That is approximately 3% allotted critical care hospital bed per hospital in the entire country.

Remember that hospitals must function and serve to other patients as well. Patients with cancer, diabetes, trauma and other illness should be allowed to walk in and out of the hospital.

Government hospitals can not work solely for COVID-19 patients, it must function to serve patients regardless of their ailment.

Number of Government Hospitals

The average hospital size measured by the number of beds is 83. The average size increases to 109 beds for public hospitals. The private sector operates smaller hospitals with an average size of 69 beds.

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In the NCR, where most medical centres are located, hospitals are bigger (average 182 beds per hospital). Public hospitals in the NCR have an average size of 359 beds and private hospitals 109 beds.

Outside the NCR, hospitals are smaller. Hospitals in Luzon excluding the NCR have an average size of 58 beds, the Visayas 91 beds and Mindanao 75 beds.

The geographical distribution of hospital beds relative to area population is such that there are 23 hospital beds for 10 000 people in the NCR while the rest of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao have only 8.2, 7.8 and 8.3 beds, respectively, indicating a significantly higher access to hospitals by people in the NCR compared to those in the rest of the country.

COVID-19 War: What if There’s No Community Quarantine?

To answer it bluntly, 80% of the Filipinos will be infected by COVID-19 in two months. This means that by 15th May 2020. eighty million Filipinos are in the hospitals undergoing treatment.

Below graph is a “statistical probability” if the Philippine government did not imposed a community quarantine. Also shows the statistical probability of the recent scenario where the government implemented a community quarantine that started March 15, 2020.

Assuming that every Filipino will follow the home quarantine and the Philippine government will intensify the testing efforts, this is the best case scenario.

The hospital bed capacity of the Philippine government is approximately 3% of the total capacity. Therefore, the Philippines currently have 1,425 hospital beds for COVID-19 virus (estimated).

If the coronavirus will continue to spread at a rate of 1:5 (one carrier infecting 5 new cases), the number will peak to 7,639 cases in just 30 days. This is exactly what is currently happening in Italy, Spain and Iran. Because these countries were delayed in declaring “quarantine”, the have suffered terribly.

COVID-19 War: What is the Solution?

In layman term, the first solution is to create a vaccine that can kill the virus.

While we are all waiting for the permanent solution, we need to contain and slowdown the spread of the virus.

Home quarantine or community quarantine is the first temporary “band aid” solution. People can go to work but must go home after work. They can go out to but essential things. No party, no gimmicks, no sight seeing.

Second “band aid” solution is total lockdown of a city, area or country. Similar to Italy, total lockdown means that no one leaves the house, no work, no eating outside the restaurant, no parks… just stay at home.

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COVID-19 War: World War 3

During world war 2, our grandparents were summoned by the government to fight a war… they went out and fought gallantly.

Today, we are summoned by the government to fight a war… we just need to stay at home, be with our families, watch Netflix and chill with our love ones. How hard can that be?

 

COVID-19 War is a special report for Filipinos, especially for those who always complains of little sh*t things that they can’t do.

Military and police are not only the heroes of this battle… Salute to our doctors, nurses and all medical workers.

 

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Engr Eva Allanigue
Chemical Engineering graduate with a passion in writing weird stuff at GineersNow. Official globe-trotter with luxury luggage, bags & accessories. Follow me on Linkedin

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