February 1, 2023

Baguio City’s contact tracing methodology for the Covid-19 continues to make waves as it caught the interest of no less than the World Health Organization.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong presented the scheme before WHO Regional Office for Western Pacific Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai and Country Representative Dr. Rabi Abeyasinghe and Department of Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo during the joint WHO-DOH visit to the Cordillera on Covid-19 response last July 10 at the Baguio Country Club.
The visit was part of the WHO’s documentation of Covid-19 best measures being implemented in the countryside to determine best practices that can be learned and shared with the end in view of improving the strategy in handling the pandemic.
During the forum, the team also looked into the Covid-19 strategies of Benguet as presented by Gov. Melchor Diclas as well as the medical program of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center by Medical Officer Dr. Ricardo Ruñez Jr.
In his keynote message, Kasai said the city’s contact tracing system has gained impressive feedback in the country and WHO wanted to learn of its mechanics first-hand in recognition of contact tracing as a key to changing the course of the outbreak.
The next day, the team toured the city’s contact tracing command center where they were walked through the process which involves approaches on detection, isolation, testing and tracing.
A homegrown process put together by the mayor, it integrates police cognitive interviewing technique, computerized data collection and link analysis tools, and patient identity disclosure to maximize gathering of contact information and facilitate quarantine, testing, disinfection and medical protocols.
The WHO representatives expressed appreciation of the city’s system and noted similarities in some of the approaches to those being implemented in Singapore and South Korea, according to City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo and City Epidemiology Surveillance Unit head Dr. Donnabel Tubera.
They were also impressed by the mayor’s strong leadership in getting the system together and the cooperation of the people, the city health officials added. – Aileen P. Refuerzo