Health workers of St. Jude Family Hospital in Los Baños, Laguna receive on March 25, 2020 donated personal protective equipment from different business sectors in the province.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos
Medical supply producers urged: Don't export, let local health workers use products
Alexis Romero ( - March 26, 2020 - 6:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — As some hospitals taking care of patients infected with 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are running out of equipment, the government is urging manufacturers of medical supplies not to export their products and allow local health workers to use them instead.

The lack of medical supplies, especially personal protective equipment (PPE), is placing health workers taking care of COVID-19 patients at risk, prompting some groups to seek donations.

At least five Filipino doctors on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 have died of the disease, which has also infected more than 600 persons in the country.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) would talk to suppliers of PPEs to convince them to provide equipment to local health institutions.

"Right now , we have to remember that there is a worldwide demand for PPE. We are also scrambling for PPE supplies...So the Inter-agency Task Force has ordered the DTI to talk to export-oriented enterprises, manufacturers here in our country, especially those who are exporting medicines, medical supplies and medical equipment," Nograles told radio station dzBB yesterday.

"Instead of exporting them, they should just allow us to use them for our domestic and local consumption," he added.

Nograles said the passage of the Bayanihan Act, which grants President Duterte additional powers to arrest the spread of COVID-19, would make it easier for the government to ask private firms to concentrate on manufacturing PPEs and other medical supplies.

He said the science department is also undertaking steps to manufacture PPEs, gloves, masks and other equipment needed by health workers.

The Bayanihan Act also permits the President to reprogram, reallocate, and realign any appropriation in the 2020 budget to fund COVID-19-related measures, It also allows him to expedite and streamline the accreditation of testing kits and exempts the purchase of supplies needed to fight the disease.

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