Information and communications technology (ICT) plays a crucial role in fighting COVID-19 in the country. By leveraging ICT, local government units (LGUs), and national agencies are able to give Filipinos access to healthcare, testing facilities, and even financial resources for patients in need.
This was one of the key insights in the recent 2021 Liveable Cities Lab webinar that focused on Resilient Public Health Systems. The event was presented by Liveable Cities Challenge Philippines and the League of Cities of the Philippines, in partnership with Globe.
Resource speakers included former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Dr. Manuel Dayrit, Health Undersecretary Dr. Leopoldo Vega, and Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto. Globe Business Sales Director Mike Agustin also joined the panel.
Usec. Vega pointed out that ICT facilitates the creation of solutions to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 and other diseases and “is an enabler for every Filipino to access proper health care and facilities.”
He cited the DOH’s One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) which allows the agency to conduct a comprehensive and coordinated response to the pandemic. This is done through an efficient and effective referral system involving hospitals, quarantine facilities, and medical transportation to ensure that patients get the level of care they require. Beyond Metro Manila, OHCC is now being rolled out in Regions 3, 4-A, and Southern Mindanao before deploying throughout the country.
Globe provided the communication backbone for the OHCC and continues to support the initiative nearly a year since its inception.
“When we established OHCC, we did not have any kind of communications. Globe gave their all-out support such as cellular phones and direct lines that proved helpful during the ‘first wave’ of the program. Today, we have expanded to 80 agents receiving and coordinating referrals to help our countrymen. Soon, we will even have online consultation to give health care access to all,” Usec. Vega said.
To help accelerate the connectivity of the Philippine health care system, Globe has also deployed free WiFi access in 124 hospitals across the country through #GoWiFi, the company’s fast and secure public hotspot service.
To complement these efforts, Globe’s affiliate KonsultaMD was tapped by DOH at the onset of the pandemic to provide free telehealth services to the public so that hospitals and clinics can focus on COVID-19 patients and others with critical medical needs.
Another important service that utilizes ICT is GCash, the fintech arm of Globe. GCash was chosen by the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the disbursement of funds under its social amelioration program given to Filipinos displaced by the pandemic.
“We are always pushing the envelope here at Globe so we can provide relevant and affordable products and services for businesses, national government, and LGUs so that they can overcome the challenges of this pandemic as we move to a better, more resilient normal. Globe will continue to reimagine and launch novel solutions to help our public health system,” said Mike Agustin, Globe Business Sales Director.
Meanwhile, Secretary Dayrit also stressed the importance of ICT as an integrator of data across the national and local health care network.
“If there was one thing that was exposed during this pandemic is that we need better data management and analytics so we can respond decisively in real-time. There should be a seamless integration of disease control not just for COVID-19 but for non-COVID diseases as well. At the end of the day, we need to do better to protect lives and livelihoods. Never let a crisis go to waste,” Sec. Dayrit added.
The utilization of ICT also results in good outcomes in many cities across the country. PasigPASS, for instance, has been a boon for the local government in contract tracing and monitoring that it was adopted by other LGUs. Currently, the city is pilot testing the Pasig Health Monitoring system which serves as the central database of citizens’ health records.
“When the pandemic hit, we asked ourselves in Pasig, are we going to just weather the storm or are we going to improve and do better? No one has a guidebook for this pandemic so it gave us the opportunity to be creative, to think out of the box, and to be decisive. We must be willing to take risks and be bold in our solutions,” Mayor Sotto said.
Through Liveable Cities Labs and its other programs, Globe supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG), in particular, Goal No. 9 to build resilient infrastructure for sustainable industrialization and Goal No. 11 to make cities safe, resilient, and sustainable.
Learn more about Globe’s sustainability efforts at https://www.globe.com.ph/about-us/sustainability.html.