It’s More Fun in the Philippines: Anchoring Health for a Safer Philippines
by: Desiree D. Tarranco
Last April 16, 2015, the Department of Health MIMAROPA together with the Bureau of Quarantine, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority and Department of Tourism hosted the Provincial Summit on Health in Tourism Program entitled “Usapang Kalusugan para sa Turismo”. Theparticipants of the activity were hotel, resort and tourist establishment owners/managers, Provincial Health Officers and City Health Officers from the provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Romblon and Marinduque together with the RIACEH members/representatives at Lima Park Hotel, Lima Technology Center, Malvar, Batangas.
During the opening program, Hon. Hubert Christopher A. Dolor, Mayor of Puerto Galera welcomed the guests and gave a short message to inspire the participants to help each other in order to make inclusive growth to be felt in the region. After which, Dir. Enrique Tayag, Bureau of Local Health System Development of DOH as the keynote speaker of the event encouraged the participants to follow what they learned in this summit in order to make the Philippines especially MIMAROPA a safer place for tourists.
Also, there were five presentations presented namely the (1) Promotion of Hygiene Sanitation in Every Tourist Destination; (2) Health Security Coordination; (3) Role of Quarantine on Tourism; (4) DOT Accreditation Process and lastly, (5) Occupational Safety for Workers.
The first topic “Promotion of Hygiene Sanitation in Every Tourist Destination” was discussed by Dr. Rommel C. Lizan, Medical Officer IV of the Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) unit mentioned some important points why DOH is promoting health in tourism. It includes the 8 initial components of the program such as (1) vermin control and disinfection, (2) cleanliness in ports and vessels, (3) installation of health signages, (4) medical clinics in network, (5) training of lifeguards and emergency responders, (6) provision of buoys, lifeguard towers and posts, (7) water testing for bacteriological and mineral/solutes and (8) proper sewerage disposals. These components focus on preventing the occurrence of waterborne diseases, degradation of the environment and saving casualties. He also introduced the 9th component of the program which is to prevent the entry, spread of new emerging diseases such as MERS-COV, SARS, HIV-AIDS and Ebola which can destroy tourism.
Furthermore, Dr. Lizan mentioned the DOH commitments for this program such as shouldering of training expenses of the lifeguards and emergency responders and their support for the strict implementation of PD 856 or Code of Sanitation of the Philippines for the protection of the environment including air, water land and sea.
The topic “Health Security Coordination” was discussed by a Nurse in the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) in the name of Mr. Noel T. Orosco. In his talk, he discussed how important it is to gather enough “correct” data/news if there is an outbreak. The WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY/HOW are still the very useful tool for coordinating correct information. The extension numbers of DOH in each provinces were also given to the participants so that they can make appropriate action immediately if there are suspected cases of an outbreak in their respective places.
Through Dr. Ma. Rosario Vasquez, Epidemiologist of Bureau of Quarantine, their roles in the safety of the coming cargo/tourist in the points of entries in the Philippines that they do not carry diseases were made clear to the participants by the topic “Role of Quarantine on Tourism”. She also included in her presentation that aside from assuring maximum security, they should be able to develop protocols, provide technical reports, coordination and networking in order to deliver information to tourists coming in the country.
The next topic discussed was the implementation of the New National Accommodation Standards and how “DOT accreditation process” was being done for hotels, resorts or tourist establishments. The new standards employ a points-based rating system focused on inventory, availability, condition, and quality of a specific facility or service using the Star Rating System. It was also mentioned that the new standards seek to boost industry competitiveness, especially in preparation for important events such as the APEC this year and the ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2016.
Lastly, the “Occupational Safety for Workers” wasconversedbyMs. Rea Joy Paitan of DOLE. She relayed the constitutional mandate to safeguard the worker’s social and economic well-being as well as his physical safety and health.
The program was concluded by signing the “Panata” Board as a gesture of commitment to be one in enriching tourism by being a responsible hotel/resort owner in order to preserve the lands and seas in MIMAROPA and the closing remarks by Dr. Eduardo C. Janairo, DOH MIMAROPA Regional Director.