Bill on disease control center pushed

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 8, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There is a need to create a government agency that will assume the responsibility of protecting the lives of millions of Filipinos by monitoring, tracking, responding to and mitigating outbreaks of infectious diseases and other public health emergencies in the country, Sen. Bong Go said yesterday.

Go filed Senate Bill 2158, which seeks to create the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the priority measures President Duterte mentioned in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year.

“Over the course of this pandemic, we’ve learned many things. We saw different systems that need to be fixed, including disease surveillance and control capabilities,” Go said in Filipino.

“If we have this agency, we can strengthen our preparedness and capacity to respond if there is a health crisis. We’re not sure if there will be another pandemic like COVID-19 so we must be prepared,” he said.

The CDC shall serve as the lead agency for developing and applying communicable disease control and prevention initiatives. It will be primarily responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases in the country, he said.

The center will also actively work to reduce threats to the nation’s health by providing consultation and assistance to other countries and international organizations to help improve their disease prevention and control systems and practices.

Under the bill, the CDC shall serve as an attached agency of the Department of Health. It will subsume the functions and activities of the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau, Disease Emergency Management Bureau and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau.

A communicable disease prevention and control bureau will also be created under which the following divisions will be clustered: the infectious diseases for elimination division and infectious disease prevention and control division.

If enacted into law, all relevant health professionals and institutions across the country are mandated to report any pertinent information that may be the cause of a public health emergency to the CDC or DOH. The center will be responsible for investigating such cases and notifying the secretary of health of suspicious events.

During a state of public health emergency, the CDC shall be tasked with procuring or distributing vaccines, antibiotics and other medical supplies necessary for responding to the crisis.

It will likewise exercise other emergency powers over persons, including treatment and the disposal of infectious human remains.

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