COVID-19 stretched health systems worldwide, but its deepest impacts were disproportionately felt across certain population segments. In the Philippines, a low-middle income country with one of the longest pandemic-induced lockdowns, the most marginalised communities suffered the most, and had little agency to afford and access care.
In this paper, Janine Patricia G. Robredo, Raymond John Naguit and Keisha Carisse P. Mangalili report on an innovative, volunteer-run program that sought to fill gaps in health delivery through a free telemedicine platform for indigent Filipinos.
Via a Facebook messenger service that ran on free data, patients were given the opportunity to consult with health professionals regarding their medical concerns at no cost.
The program banked on the mobilisation of health professionals and volunteers, and relied on capacity building initiatives and the establishment of inter-agency collaborations.
Bayanihan E-Konsulta stands as a successful example of a low-cost public/private/volunteer health response in a time of crisis, and the paper provides fascinating insights for public health leaders across the globe who are tailoring responses to public health emergencies.
Photo credit: A Filipino woman looks at her mobile phone. © Art Phaneuf / Alamy Stock