When the COVID-19 pandemic began to rampage in early 2020, there were no experts on the disease nor any well-established treatments. Any knowledge gained came at a great price as doctors, and other medical professionals were among the first to fall to the new, highly infectious viral disease.
The Philippines alone lost nearly two dozen medical specialists to COVID, a devastating blow to a country where health workers were already in short supply. Add to this the skyrocketing incidence of burnout among Philippine health workers as the pandemic raged on, as well as the government’s relatively weak COVID-19 response compared to the rest of ASEAN, and it becomes apparent that the country’s healthcare system’s recovery from the pandemic remains an uphill battle.
Early on, the University of the Philippines (UP), the country’s national university, saw the urgent and continuing need for the exchange of accurate information about and on-the-ground experiences with COVID-19 among doctors, nurses, health workers, scientists, government officials, private healthcare representatives, and other frontliners.
UP was then determined to ensure that the Philippine healthcare sector provides the best possible care for COVID-19 patients and national and local pandemic response. The general public also needed resources for science-based information about COVID-19 to counter the parallel epidemic of fake news and misinformation.
By tapping into its community of the country’s top experts in multiple fields and disciplines, UP organized the “Stop COVID Deaths” webinar series early into the pandemic. This series is a collaborative work with the UP Manila National Institutes of Health (UPM-NIH) and National Telehealth Center (UPM-NTC), and the UP Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), with TVUP handling the Zoom-based program, including its livestreaming.
These informative, educational webinars are held every Friday at noon over the TVUP YouTube channel and through the University’s Twitter account and TVUP’s Facebook page, making them free and openly accessible to anyone. UP has produced 96 “Stop COVID Deaths” webinars. They are still available for viewing on the TVUP YouTube channel. The latest round expands the discussion beyond COVID-19 and other infectious diseases significantly impacting the Philippine population, such as measles.
2022 Gold Quill Award of Merit
The university’s significant educational and public service initiative—now into its third year—has recently earned international recognition when the UP “Stop COVID Deaths” webinars won a 2022 Gold Quill Award of Merit from the US-based International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).
According to its official website, IABC’s Gold Quill Awards have recognized and awarded excellence in strategic communication worldwide. It is the only awards program that globally honors communicators’ dedication, innovation, and passion. Since 2008, organizers have screened more than 4,451 projects.
As one of the awardees for 2022, the UP “Stop COVID Deaths” series won an Award of Merit under the Communication Management Division of the Gold Quill Awards in the “COVID-19 Response and Recovery Management and Communication” category. Its co-winners in its category include projects by the Region of Peel and the Vancouver Coastal Health (Canada), and the London Health Sciences Centre (UK).
According to a letter from the IABC Awards Committee sent to UP Vice President for Public Affairs Elena Pernia, “Our Gold Quill Blue Ribbon Panel evaluators assessed your entry against the IABC Gold Quill Award criteria and IABC’s Seven-point Scale of Excellence. Your work met this high standard—a great accomplishment!”
“Through this work, you’ve managed to create a movement that has had a major impact on your country not only as it relates to how information is shared amongst frontline medical workers but also in the access that the public has to information that is highly relevant and important to Filipinos,” the IABC Gold Quill jury commented in its assessment of the webinar series.
“In a time where many people and organizations were overwhelmed, this project stands out as one that demonstrates how effective and impactful simple, clear and consistent communication can be,” it added.
Other winners from the Philippines are ABS-CBN for excellence in communication award for the web for its “Act as if you have the virus” campaign and recognition of merit in communication skills for its Kapamilya Himig Handog event, Christian Kyle Pascual of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde earned the award of merit in audio-visual communication skills for the presentation “Turtales: Telling the Tales of Endangered Marine Turtles,” the Megaworld Foundation garnered an award for excellence in communication skills in social media for its “Mega Summer Ventures Version 2.0” and Meralco for excellence in communication skills in publications award for its 2020 Corporate Reports and award of merit in communication skills in social media for its Meralco Corporate Partners Viber Community.
Everyone is invited to attend this week’s UP “Stop COVID Deaths” webinar titled “Batang Biglang Hindi Makalakad: Siryosohin Natin ang Tigdas”, to be held on April 29, 2022, from 12 to 2 p.m.
With reports from Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc