Dr. Marcelo Joachico passed away on the evening of March 24 due to COVID-19, her daughter Cielo said.
Cielo Joachico, Facebook post
'Former barrio doctor, always a frontliner': Dr. Jaochico passes away due to COVID-19
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - March 25, 2020 - 11:22am

MANILA, Philippines — The family of Pampanga Provincial Health Officer Marcelo Jaochico may not be able to hold a proper funeral for him due to health protocols for COVID-19 fatalities, but stories of how their father helped people continue to reach them.

“You will never be prepared for your parent’s death,” Cielo Jaochico wrote about her father’s death on March 24.

On the same day of Dr. Jaochico's death, the Department of Health reported 90 new infections, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 552.

The death toll rose to 35, while 20 have so far recovered.

A community doctor

As the family mourns, Cielo asked: “Please do not remember him as someone who just died because of COVID-19. Sobrang dami niyang ginawa para sa bayan.”

She wrote in an earlier post that her father, a graduate of University of Santo Tomas and Angeles University Foundation, was offered to join the Doctors to the Barrios program in the 1990s.

DTTB is a government program that aims to “address the lack of doctors practicing in rural communities in the Philippines.” Through this, doctors are deployed to far flung communities to offer primary care and public health.

Cielo said her memory is unclear but she remembers her dad by the creek, hauling heavy things when two University of the Philippines graduate walked up to him and asked him to answer a survey. He was later offered a scholarship and even graduated as a Cum Laude at UP Manila’s College of Public Health Master’s program.

Jaochico served Calanasan, Apayao for almost 16 years where he was an “obstetrician, paediatrician and family doctor,” who also fought a dengue and malaria outbreak, his daughter said.

Cielo shared an anecdote from her father who once helped a mother give birth, but the baby was cyanotic, or had bluish skin color.

“Since nasa bundok sila at walang mga [equipment], ang ginawa nya noon ay hinigop nya yung mga secretions sa ilong at bibig ng bata. The child cried pagtapos and was able to live,” she said.

She also shared posts from her father’s former patients who said they “owe so much” from the former DTTB. Even after he was reassigned to a different community, Jaochico continued to answer questions from his patients in Calanasan town.

Always a frontliner: From Yolanda to Taal Volcano to COVID-19

“He was also one of the front liners who rushed to Tacloban, Leyte after the destruction of Typhoon Yolanda,” Cielo said.

A doctor who worked with Jaochico in Tacloban recalled him as a “good man, humble and always ready to serve.”

Jaochico also headed Pampanga medical team efforts during the eruption of Taal Volcano.

“He stayed there for a week. Dalawang beses pa nga atang bumalik. Halos walang ligo, walang tubig at matanda na rin siya. Hindi mabuti ang volcanic ashes para sa kanya pero kabilang sya sa mga nag-stay at tumulong sa Batangas Provincial Sports Complex,” Cielo said.

Jaochico served as a provincial health officer of Pampanga from 2013, where he initiated and took part of projects for district government hospitals and health centers. One of which received the Best Provincial Risk Reduction Management Council in Central Luzon in 2019.

Other frontliners pass on due to COVID-19

Doctors are among the country’s fatalities due to the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, noted cardiologist Raul Diaz Jara passed away due to COVID-19. Others who died are oncologist Rose Pulido, cardiologist Israel Bactol and anaesthesiologist Greg Macasaet.

Health workers at the frontlines on long shifts are among those most exposed to the virus. 

In a statement issued on Sunday, healthcare group Coalition for People's Right to Health called for more support to be afforded to health workers, whom the group said was among those most vulnerable and at risk amid the outbreak of the virus.

READ: Groups call for COVID-19 testing, better support and pay for health workers

"From experiencing mandatory quarantine to severe cases of respiratory distress and now even death, health professional and workers are literally giving their lives in the service of the nation and its people during this pandemic," the statement read.  — with reports from Franco Luna

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