(File photo

MANILA – While people should not let their guard down against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), two groups on Tuesday urged the public to also be mindful of non-Covid cases, especially cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes and hypertension.

In a virtual presser, representatives of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPI), and the Philippine Alliance for Patient Organization (PAPO) noted that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are among the top causes of deaths in the country.

Patients must consult with their doctors even amid the pandemic, they said.

PAPO representative Leyden Florido said some persons with diabetes fear seeking medical consultations because they worry about contracting Covid-19.

Some are uncertain when to seek consultations, while others depend on online information. Others have limited access or knowledge about technology, she said.

With this, PHAPI introduced the "Kumusta Dok" initiative, which aims to increase awareness of the risk factors, signs and symptoms of NCDs. The initiative also seeks to encourage patients to communicate with their doctors during and after the pandemic.

"(PHAPI) doctors and facilities also had to adapt to the and find new ways in order to continue serving the patients,” PHAPI Corporate Secretary Richard Lirio said.

Their hospitals, he said, have separate waiting areas exclusive for non-Covid-19 patients. They also require screening for Covid-19 symptoms and completion of declaration forms prior to entering hospitals.

High-contact areas like door handles, railings, and benches are frequently sanitized. They encourage patients to set an appointment with their doctors before heading to the hospital or clinic to prevent overcrowding and to maintain physical distancing.

Pulmonologist Patrick Moral said while they see telehealth to remain in demand, there will still be medical consultations done in the hospitals.

He said telehealth has been very helpful to people who used to have no access to medical care.

Moral also emphasized the need for health literacy and advised patients to avoid disinformation.

"Not everything you see online is vetted or reviewed," he said.

Cardiologist Helen Ong-Garcia also said telemedicine will likely continue, urging patients to have a healthy lifestyle to help them manage NCDs. (PNA)