PRESS RELEASE: Upholding our promise to save more lives by protecting healthcare workers

Manila, Philippines, August 18, 2021 – As the world continues to battle COVID-19, healthcare workers (HCWs) have been tirelessly serving at the forefront against the virus—putting their lives at serious risk. In the Philippines alone, more than 17,000 cases have been already recorded among HCWs as of this writing according to the Department of Health. This is further aggravated by the arrival of the more contagious Delta variant—with over 800 confirmed cases making the Philippines one of Asia’s biggest COVID-19 outbreaks.

To provide a lifeline to healthcare workers, the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) partnered with Project HOPE, an international global health organization, for the Saving the Lives of Healthcare Workers in the Philippines project last August 2020. One year since its inception, the project successfully exceeded its targets and continues to impact the country’s healthcare system by supporting HCWs as they fight COVID-19.

“We are grateful for the partnership with Project HOPE to deliver critically needed support to Filipino healthcare workers battling this outbreak,” said ASSIST Managing Director Sreeni Narayanan. “By joining forces, we will improve patient outcomes and recoveries by providing healthcare workers with the necessary aid to combat the virus.” As part of the project’s DNA, three strategies were designed to provide HCWs the tools they need to address COVID-19: delivering medical supplies to healthcare facilities,  providing skills training to HCWs, and improving infection and prevention control (IPC) management in hospitals. 

For Strategy 1, ASSIST successfully distributed over 30,000 personal protective equipment (PPEs) supporting over 50 health facilities around the Philippines. The medical supplies, which include bunny suits and medical grade KN95 masks, protect HCWs from the dangers of COVID-19 during health service delivery. 

To ensure that HCWs are equipped with the latest knowledge to safely screen and treat patients, a training program was launched last August 2020 as part of Strategy 2 and trained over 7,500 doctors, nurses and medical and nursing students. The training program, developed by the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies at the Watson Institute of Brown University in the United States, educates medical workers on the proper management of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

“It is more of a promise to save more lives, so that these nurses that have been trained and informed properly would be able to assist more lives. Because I believe in the correct information dissemination,” Maria Louisa T. Uayan, Dean of the Our Lady of Fatima University, College of Nursing said about the training program. With content from trusted institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ASSIST and Project HOPE strives to provide accessible training to support HCWs and their COVID-19 response as well as combat medical misinformation.

To date, over 15 partnerships with hospital associations, medical societies, and local government units have been established for the project. This includes a partnership with the Philippine Society for Quality in Healthcare (PsQua) to conduct infection prevention and control assessments of hospitals for Strategy 3, which is based on the guidelines and standards set by the World Health Organization and the Department of Health. Since the project’s inception, 7 assessments have been conducted in various health facilities, with 50 additional hospitals scheduled for assessments to ensure their compliance with WHO and DOH guidelines and help them better serve their patients.

Until herd immunity is achieved, experts fear that COVID-19 cases will rise, especially now with the presence of easily transmissible and more vaccine-resistant variants. With this, ASSIST and Project HOPE are committed to empower healthcare workers and save more lives. In this line, the training program will be expanded to include mental health training and COVID-19 vaccine literacy. A remote IPC self-assessment platform will also be launched as well as a vaccine communications campaign to reduce vaccine hesitancy as part of Strategy 4 for late-2021. 

Become a part of our mission in protecting our healthcare workers! For partnerships and more information about the project, contact Christelle Britanico, Project Management Associate at [email protected]