KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, Feb. 21 (PIA) - An organized and functional Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) is an essential element in preventing entry and spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an official of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) here said.
"BHERTs are our first line of defense against coronavirus," Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., provincial health officer, emphasized in his presentation during the 1st quarter meeting of the Social Development Sector Committee of the South Cotabato Provincial Development Council on Wednesday.
"They are the first line of defense because the members of the BHERTs know the people in their respective communities. They know who has arrived from countries with reported cases of COVID-19 and those who have recently travelled from other countries," Dr. Aturdido explained.
Recently, Aturdido met with mayors and other LGU officials to orient them on the activation of BHERTs in each obarangays and to make sure that the teams are not only organized but more importantly are functioning as they should in times of emergencies such as COVID-19 outbreak.
A BHERT is comprised of the barangay captain as chair, the barangay kagawad on health as vice with the barangay midwife or nurse, barangay health worker or nutrition scholar and barangay tanods as members.
IPHO has proposed to the LGUs to include purok chairpersons as members of the BHERT for wider reach.
For better guidance, the IPHO crafted roles and responsibilities of the BHERTs as well as the Rural Health Units and the IPHO related to the COVID-19 monitoring and surveillance.
BHERTs are responsible for tracking of persons with history of foreign travel, identification of persons under monitoring (PUMs) and persons under investigation (PUIs), informing the Municipal Health Office of suspected person after identification as PUM, monitoring PUMs on a daily basis, and taking of vital signs of the PUM - with mask - specifically temperature three times a day.
A persons is classified as PUM if he or she has arrived from China, Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan but has not exhibited symptoms such as fever, cough, and sneezing and when a person who recently arrived from other countries such as the US and Thailand who show the aforementioned signs.
PUMs are subjected to 14 days of self-quarantine, which Dr. Aturdido stressed, should mean that even contact with family members is restricted.
To clarify further the BHERTs roles, Atudido pointed out that only the barangay nurse or midwife should take the vital signs of a PUM while barangay tanods are responsible for ensuring that a person under monitoring is compliant with the self-quarantine protocol.
PUIs, on the other hand, are those who have travelled from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and have shown symptoms such as fever, cough, and sneezing upon arrival or within 14 days from arrival.
If a PUM being monitored show any sign and symptom within the 14-day quarantine, he or she is reclassified as PUI. The BHERT should immediately relay this information to the RHU or the Municipal Epidemiology Surveillance Unit who will in turn inform the Provincial Epidemiology Surveillance Unit of the IPHO.
"Only assigned personnel of the IPHO - in proper personal protective equipment -- are allowed to convey the suspected person under investigation from the barangay and coordinate with the hospital where the patient will be confined," Dr. Aturdido emphasized.
In an earlier meeting with different sectoral representatives, he underscored that not even the police are permitted to fetch a suspected PUI from his or her location because doing so could endanger the responders and other persons the patient would come in contact with.
During the meeting of the Social Development Sector Committee, Dr. Aturdido reported that South Cotabato has recorded 10 PUMs, 8 of whom have already completed the two-week quarantine and 1 PUI who was discharged from hospital on Saturday after test result from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine came out negative for coronavirus. (DED-PIA XII)