Home Catholic Church & Asia Philippine church groups offer online medical, spiritual consultation

Philippine church groups offer online medical, spiritual consultation

The Order of the Ministers of the Infirm in the Philippines has set up mental and spiritual online consultations for healthcare workers and those infected with COVID-19.

The religious congregation, also known as the Camillians, opened its official social media account for people to directly talk with priest counsellors.

Father Dan Vicente Cancino said the pandemic has “greatly affected” people’s mental and spiritual wellbeing, “especially those who are in the front lines and people who are sick.”

The priest said that because movement of people is limited, and priests are under quarantine, the congregation makes use of the internet as a venue to provide services.

Father Cancino, who is executive secretary of the health care commission of the bishops’ conference, said they aim to provide support to people who are “overwhelmed with fears and anxiety.”

“These people need someone to talk to,” said the priest. “An online or over-the-phone conversation will help a lot to boost their morale and spirit,” he added.

On March 29, the faith-based group Philippine-Misereor Partnership Inc (PMPI) also launched its free online medical and psychosocial services.

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At least 20 doctors, clinicians, and specialists from member organizations are taking telephone calls and online consultations from the public.

Dr. Isidro Dia, executive secretary of the Integrative Medicine for Alternative Healthcare Systems, said early detection is important in battling the spread of the coronavirus disease.

“If people feel some symptoms and they want to get medical advice, or they want to know if it is probably COVID-19 or not, they may call us,” he said.

The medical doctor said the battle against the spread of the disease “must be strengthened at the community level.”

“If we are not going to do that and there is an overwhelming number of cases, our hospital infrastructure and health system won’t be able to handle the crisis,” said Dia.

A street vendor selling face masks passes by a sign that reads ‘Jesus Loves You’ in the suburb of Quezon City in the Philippine capital on March 31. (Photo by Jimmy Domingo)

Yolanda Esguerra, PMPI national coordinator, said the service is also available to people who are suffering from mental stress because of the current lockdown.

“The prolonged home quarantine has caused people a lot of fear and stress,” noted Esguerra. “We saw the need to provide psychosocial intervention because of these circumstances,” she said.

“We must attend to the mental health of everyone especially those who struggle too hard to cope with this new normal,” said Esguerra.

As of April 1, the country’s health department has conducted coronavirus tests to only 3,938 people. A total of 2,084 individuals have already tested positive of the disease.

At least 49 people have already recovered from the disease while 88 individuals have died in the Philippines.

There are more than 6,000 Filipinos who are considered “people under monitoring” and 968 “patients under investigation.”

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