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The Philippines Empowering Disaster Response with Tech

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In a major development for healthcare emergency response and disaster management in the Visayas region, the Department of Health (DOH) has unveiled the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) Command Center, situated in Cebu City. This cutting-edge facility, inaugurated on April 15, 2024, represents a significant stride forward as the first of its kind among DOH hospitals in Visayas, fully equipped to address health emergencies and manage disasters promptly and effectively.

Led by DOH Undersecretary for Universal Health Care – Health Services Cluster Area III (Visayas) Gloria Balboa, along with DOH Central Visayas Center for Health Development Regional Director Jaime Bernadas and Dr Stanley Caminero, Cebu Provincial Board Member and Chairperson of the Committee on Public Health and Social Services, the launch ceremony was attended by VSMMC’s Executive Committee and Medical Center Chief, Dr Gerardo Aquino, Jr.

At the heart of the Command Center’s capabilities lies a comprehensive monitoring mechanism, leveraging advanced technology such as live CCTV feeds and real-time data surveillance. This infrastructure enables the centre to monitor local emergencies closely and coordinate responses swiftly.

Additionally, the centre integrates live weather updates from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), seismological activities from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS), and the Central Visayas Electronic Health Referral System (CVeHRS), among other critical sources of information.

The Command Center features an in-house queueing system watch, daily bed utilisation tracking, patient tracking system, and electronic health record system monitoring. It also prioritises safety and security, with provisions for a ‘war room’ dedicated to rapid decision-making during crises.

VSMMC, under the DOH, is renowned not only for its cutting-edge Command Center but also as a longstanding multi-speciality academic medical centre and healthcare network in Cebu for over a century. This achievement embodies the Department’s commitment to its 8-Point Action Agenda, notably the “Handa sa Krisis” initiative, focusing on fostering a robust and adaptable health system to address public health emergencies effectively.

Secretary Teodoro J. Herbosa hailed the inauguration as a significant milestone in advancing emergency and disaster management in the Visayas region. He emphasised that the Command Center at VSMMC signifies a critical step towards ensuring swift and coordinated responses to health crises, serving as a beacon of resilience and preparedness in times of need.

This initiative aligns with the Department’s commitment to advancing universal healthcare through proactive disaster management, ultimately contributing to the transformative journey towards a more resilient and prepared Philippines, where every life is valued.

The Philippines is prioritising the deployment of technology for critical events and disaster management, emphasising the need for an uninterrupted power supply to ensure continuous operations during emergencies. Leveraging technological solutions, the country aims to enhance its resilience and responsiveness to disasters, safeguarding communities and minimising disruptions to essential services.

The nation announced plans to implement the Mobile Energy System (MES) pilot programme in typhoon-prone areas of Cagayan Province, aiming to bolster the nation’s resilience against disasters through innovative energy solutions.

Through the distribution of MES units to government agencies and municipalities, the government aims to guarantee uninterrupted power during disasters, acknowledging electricity’s critical role in vital services. This underscores a commitment to utilise technology for addressing energy challenges and bolstering disaster preparedness nationwide.

The launch of the ESEOC alongside the MES pilot signifies a major leap in disaster response capabilities. With advanced technology, the ESEOC facilitates coordinated disaster management, providing crucial guidance to minimise disruptions in vital electricity services during crises.

These initiatives exemplify the efforts of the Philippine government to build resilient energy infrastructure and ensure effective response mechanisms in the face of natural disasters, which are increasingly prevalent in the region.


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