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Students Come Together to Aid Health Workers at PGH

By KERRY TINGA

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Coinciding with the “enhanced community quarantine” of Luzon announced on March 16, which took effect the next day, classes and school activities in all levels have been suspended until April 14. For the students at the University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila), this was not seen as a disturbance to their studies, but an opportunity to provide care and comfort to the Filipino people. As the health professionals of tomorrow, that is what they had set out to do the day they enrolled.

Sophie Boncan is currently in her second year at UP Manila College of Allied Medical Professionals (CAMP) where she studies occupational therapy. “I chose to major in occupational therapy to help people with special needs perform the activities that are meaningful to them, re-integrate themselves into society, and improve their quality of life,” she told me. Always interested in working for the marginalized and the underrepresented, she stressed that she seeks to advocate for people with disabilities, Boncan, like many of her classmates, were eager to find a way to help during this crisis.

Sophie Boncan in front of UP Manila CAMP

Sophie Boncan in front of UP Manila CAMP

Tulong-Kabataan, the volunteer arm of the UP Manila University Student Council (USC), is one of the numerous student groups that are raising funds and gathering donations to assist frontline workers at hospitals such as the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). On March 11, the state-owned hospital admitted a patient who tested positive for COVID-19, and over the weekend called for donations for medical supplies for the health workers.

The message was disseminated and spread quickly throughout social media by the students of UP like Boncan, by their friends and their family, and eventually even by strangers who were keen to help. The caption, in all capital letters, screamed out from the computer and smartphone screens:

‘WE ARE OUT OF MASKS!’

It is blunt, straight to the point, an unfortunate fact that cannot be shied away from. The healthcare professionals, our frontliners who are risking their health and safety for their fellow countrymen, are without the protection they need as they fight this crisis head-on. When they say “we” are out of masks, they are speaking not just for the hospital, but also for the country. If our frontliners are without personal protective equipment, a private individual’s supply is of little use to combat this global pandemic.

“Their [PGH] stocks of surgical masks have been depleted since January. due to the panic buying of masks after the eruptions of Taal volcano,” Boncan and Habagat Farrales of the UP Manila CAMP Student Council told me. “We are accepting donations of face masks or financial donations. Currently, we are trying to source facemasks from local and international sellers. We are prioritizing the collection of face masks, but toiletries such as alcohol, soap, and tissue are also welcome. Moreover, we are looking for medical suppliers that can help address the daily needs of PGH.”

“The current fiasco about COVID-19 and the mask hoarding is not simply due to the lack of understanding of the virus,” they continued. “Rather, there is a deeply rooted socio-economic problem.”

As a nation, we are only as strong as our front lines. During war, the front lines can define the borders of our nation, protecting the sovereignty of our land. During the health crisis that we are currently experiencing, the front lines can define the borders, if any, of our humanitarianism, what we extend to our fellow countrymen, protecting the values of camaraderie and kinship.



Source: Manila Bulletin

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