Philippines asks UK to continue protecting Filipino health workers amid COVID-19

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MANILA, Oct 6 (Mabuhay) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin has called on the United Kingdom to continue protecting Filipino health care professionals and uphold their well-being months after several of them were reported to have died from coronavirus.

In last week’s virtual meeting between Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Locsin said the UK should remember the contributions of Filipino medical workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I take pride that Filipino healthcare workers are among the best to venture forth to the frontlines anywhere in the world; famous as much for technical competence as genuine loving care. We hope the UK continues to protect our health care professionals, promote their well-being, and in the future honor them as befits their sacrifices,” Locsin said on Sept. 30.

The Philippine Embassy in London reported in April that at least 20 Filipino healthworkers died in the line of duty.

Philippine diplomats brought to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) the concerns of Filipino nurses in the UK for the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE), especially for those who are assigned at the COVID-19 wards.

According to the embassy, the deaths of the Filipino healthcare workers due to Covid-19 “have caused a stir among British society since it is well known that Filipinos represent the third biggest group of National Health Service (NHS) staff after the British and Indians.”

Close to 19,000 Filipinos serve the UK’s public health system either as medical professionals, such as nurses and allied health professionals or as support staff.

During the meeting, Locsin also reiterated the Philippine position on the importance of making vaccines more accessible to the public.

The Philippines, he said, will look to multilateral global alliances such as the COVAX facility which the UK is part of for COVID-19 vaccine cooperation.

He said the UK’s interest to help the region  combat the deadly respiratory disease, which was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019, shows that the European state remains a dependable partner of ASEAN.

“Six months from the spread of the pandemic, we have a better understanding of the contagion. But our priorities are the same: strengthening healthcare systems, joint research and development of vaccines, increasing production and supply of medicines and medical equipment, keeping our markets open and safeguarding supply chain connectivity,” Locsin said.  (MNS)

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