Save the Children Philippines is calling on health and local government authorities to prioritize deprived and marginalized families and their children who are more at risk to Coronavirus acute respiratory disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to their lack of access to health services.
The call was made after President Duterte announced on Monday the implementation of Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine. The order imposes a strict home quarantine and suspension of mass transportation for one month from March 17 to April 17, 2020 to prevent further spread of COVID-19. There are now 142 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines as of Wednesday (March 17, 2020) with 12 deaths.
The Child Rights-based group also raised concern on the first case of COVID-19 transmission to a 13-year-old girl in Quezon City. The girl, who is the country’s 135th confirmed case has no history of travel to other countries affected by COVID-19.
Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines, said while COVID-19 threatens the general public, there are communities more vulnerable to suffer further socio-economic marginalization due to the impact of the viral disease that has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
There are more than 15 million (DOLE, 2018) parents and caregivers who rely heavily on the informal economy or whose earnings require them to use public transport, sell items and render services in crowded places or streets.
The elderly, particularly those with pre-existing conditions, along with children and adults with disabilities, indigenous people, and the urban poor are also vulnerable to the COVID-19 spread. The conditions of these vulnerable communities such as food insecurity, malnutrition and inadequate delivery of basic service compromise their resistance to diseases and predispose them further more serious health conditions.
“Children whose parents need to stay in high density areas to earn a living, or those living in hard to reach areas with no access to clean water are among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19,” said Atty. Muyot.
Children and families who belong to indigenous peoples are vulnerable to the COVID-19 spread due to their limited access to health and other social services, facilities, technologies, and do not have enough opportunities to cope also need urgent support from the local government units and health authorities.
“We call on the government to give these vulnerable groups priority assistance, and also engage them in decision-making processes for their response, recovery, and preparedness,” said Atty. Muyot.