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The House committee on health approved a bill creating the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC) on the same day the national government officially launched its coronavirus vaccination program.
On Monday, March 1, lawmakers approved the still-unnumbered substitute bill consolidating all measures seeking to create the CDPC, an agency mandated to focus on reporting, tracking, and intergovernmental information sharing of emerging or re-emerging communicable diseases.
Once enacted into law, the CDPC would become an attached agency to the Department of Health (DOH) and shall serve as the technical authority on developing and applying communicable disease prevention and control initiatives.
The DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, STD AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory, International Health Surveillance Division of the Bureau of Quarantine, and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau would be transferred to and be under the direct supervision of the CDPC.
During the hearing, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained these DOH bureaus currently perform different functions in battling communicable diseases. If they were to be transferred under the CDPC, Vergeire said their processes and services would be more streamlined.
“That is why we want it in one umbrella para po mas streamlined ang ating proseso at mas maging strong ang ating pag-respond in terms of communicable and eventually non-communicable diseases,” said Vergeire.
(That is why we want it to be under one umbrella so that we can streamline the process and make our response stronger in terms of communicable and eventually non-communicable diseases.)
The substitute bill introduces reforms in recruitment, training, employment, and management of public health emergency personnel, such as mandatory neurological evaluations prior to hiring and a continuing competency development program.
It also indicates provisions for needed relocation, improvement, and construction of facilities to enhance preparedness and response to public health emergencies.
House committee on health chairperson Angelina “Helen” Tan said the bill is necessary as the country is ill-prepared to address the challenges of pandemics such as the COVID-19.
“We need to modernize and reorganize our health system at the same time to protect the public from health risks,” said Tan in a statement.
The House committee on health passed the CDPC bill on the same day COVID-19 vaccinations started in the Philippines, the last Southeast Asian country to do so.
As of March 1, the Philippines has a total of 578,381 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 31,708 are active. A total of 534,351 people have recovered from the disease in the Philippines, while 12,322 have died due to COVID-19. – Rappler.com
Christina Quiambao is a 4th year journalism student from the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She is a Rappler intern.