Health, economic experts open first #PEFtalks
Since the onset of the COVID-19, the country has faced challenges that devastated the lives and livelihoods of the Filipinos widening the inequalities everywhere.
In the first #PEFtalks organized by the Peace and Equity Foundation, former Department of Health Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral and Ateneo School of Government Dean, Dr. Ronald Mendoza talked about the trends and implications of COVID-19 to the country’s public health and economy. Close to a hundred participants from different civil society organizations, the PEF Board and General Assembly members, and staff joined the dialogue on 27 August 2020.
“At scale, with speed, and everyone working together”
Cabral provided a comprehensive outlook of how the world and the Philippines responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Cabral, the lockdowns implemented by the government helped reduce the number of positive cases but there is a need to focus on the four imperatives to flatten the curve - know the enemy, treat the sick, protect the health care workers, and keep the citizenry safe.
While Cabral noted that the government was a “little too late”, she is still hopeful that citizen participation will help ease the current situation.
“Overcoming COVID requires the full cooperation of everyone, but this requires full and accurate information from the leadership.”
Cabral also pointed out that there is a need to prepare for the next pandemic and urged governments to invest heavily in public health.
COVID-19 aggravated social problems
Dr. Mendoza on the other hand noted that the current global recession will be the deepest since World War 2, showing the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economies and society.
“With that kind of significant global economic slowdown, we expect a lot of socio-economic implications across countries and at the world level,” he said.
According to Mendoza, millions of people will be thrown in poverty, with 83 to 132 million experiencing hunger. In the Philippines, the lockdowns and loss of remittances severely hit the economy.
“The snapshot of Philippine economy is that COVID-19 effectively ended 84 quarters of uninterrupted growth which began in the 1990s. It caused the deepest contraction in the country since the 1980s,” he said.
With recession, thousands of businesses were closed, and millions of people lost their jobs, bringing 1.5 million Filipinos back into poverty.
“We have social, political, and economic inequality before, but the pandemic made it worse,” he said.
Mendoza added that the inadequate support from the government may lead to weak compliances to policies being rolled out during the pandemic.
Support to PEF’s future plans
The consultation dialogue, according PEF Chair Senen Bacani, will help PEF decide where to devote its resources in the near- and long-term horizon.
“This dialogue brought out not only information on how COVID-19 is affecting our health, our work, and our daily lives, but more importantly, we heard views on how we can navigate through this new reality bearing in mind the communities we serve,” he said.
#PEFtalks are online knowledge events, gathering fresh perspectives, expert advice and innovative solutions on real-time issues and events that will help PEF and its stakeholders in charting directions and designing interventions on the ground.