February 5, 2023

SEEKING EARLY CONSULTATION SAVES LIVES DURING PANDEMIC

Time and again, the public is being reminded not to let their guard down in observing minimum health protocols against Covid-19 and to seek early medical consultation when exhibiting any symptom of the infection for proper healthcare intervention.
We understand the wisdom on why healthcare professionals keep reiterating the importance of seeking early consultation, especially for those with comorbidities, if experiencing Covid-19 symptoms not only for their protection but also for their family members and people in their communities.
The World Health Organization stated that the serious Covid-19 symptoms requiring immediate medical care are shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, loss of speech or mobility or confusion and chest pain. These symptoms might be life threatening if not treated at the onset.
The most common symptoms are fever, cough, tiredness, loss of taste or smell while the less common symptoms are sore throat, headache, body aches and pains, diarrhea, a rash on the skin or discoloration of fingers or toes, and red or irritated eyes.
Of late, the Benguet Provincial Health Office has observed that some of those admitted in the local hospitals for Covid-19 infection are critical or severe cases, which means some of them were hesitant to seek consultation after exhibiting symptoms early on.
This was echoed by an infectious disease specialist, who stressed that those who manifest Covid-19 symptoms must not be quick to take medicines without prescriptions at the comfort of their homes. Instead, concerned individuals must consult a physician, or reach out to the nearest health center.
As of May 27, the Covid-19 cases affected 1.2 million individuals in the Philippines with 1.1 million recoveries, 48,109 active cases, and 20,379 deaths. The death toll has surpassed the combined death toll of the deadliest typhoons to hit the country the past 30 years.
In the Cordillera, the death toll is at 630 while total recoveries are at 33,375 and 1,967 active cases.
The ongoing vaccination rollout does not mean we let our guard down, as the WHO and Department of Health said the first line of defense against the dreaded virus is the strict observance of the minimum health protocols even if vaccinated, as this does not equal zero infection.
WHO also stated that vaccines alone cannot do the job of eliminating the virus but should be coupled with the strict compliance to health protocols.
It is not the time to be complacent in following basic health protocols, such as going out only when necessary, wearing mask, handwashing, physical distancing, and avoiding crowds and enclosed spaces. The public is also called to isolate if experiencing symptoms and for vulnerable individuals to be extra careful or at least reduce their exposure.
Of course, the implementation of the government-led programs like contract tracing, mass testing, treatment of patients, and vaccination drive goes hand-in-hand with these health standards to lower infection rates.
As severe and critical cases surge, healthcare professionals and the government must work together in informing and assuring the public of medical help when they seek immediate consultation.
The establishment of the system for telemedicine should also be considered as one of the ways for healthcare workers to reach out to their patients and vice versa, as some patients are apprehensive of visiting hospitals or clinics. Communication lines should be open with real-time staff manning the hotlines of healthcare service facilities for instance.
Telemedicine, which is the delivery of health care services using information and communication technology such as computers, the Internet, and smartphones, has been around for a while to extend patient care, but it was only in this pandemic that its use has exploded all over the world.
Baguio City has already started its efforts in organizing telemedicine as part of its health programs for those in home care in response to the high occupancy rate of public and private hospitals due to the surge in Covid-19 cases.
It is our hope that other local government units in the Cordillera would follow suit, as the system in place for telemedicine could still be used even when things get better. This way, the public will be encouraged to seek early consultation in any means possible.