By Mario Casayuran
Senator Richard J. Gordon today proposed the creation of an independent and competent Center for Disease Control and Prevention as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic ravages the country.
Gordon filed Senate Bill (SB) 1440, or the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act (PCDCP Act) to focus on communicable diseases of pandemic proportions.
He pointed out that the current government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the outbreaks of different infectious diseases in recent years highlight the lack of preparedness and capability of the country’s public health units to effectively prevent and control epidemics of communicable diseases.
“With almost 8,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of more than 500, in our country alone, this on-going pandemic is a dire reminder that communicable and infectious diseases and public health threats respect no borders,’’ he said.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic stirred fear in our people. Consequently, the public is increasingly demanding that the government come up with fundamental solutions to address such global and local health threats. Accordingly, the public’s expectations are growing for the government’s crucial role in increasing health security,” he added.
Under SB 1440, the proposed national center for disease control and prevention, which will be attached to the Department of Health (DOH) for policy and program coordination, will be the country’s principal health protection agency tasked to prevent, protect and manage the spread of diseases and other health threats originating domestically and internationally.
With sufficient funding and equipped with bio-safety level 2 to 4 laboratories, the CDC should be the country’s epidemiology and surveillance body which would develop and maintain a network of reference and specialized laboratories for pathogen detection, disease surveillance and outbreak response and would strengthen diagnostic capacity for and laboratory surveillance of infectious diseases, among others, Gordon explained.
“As such, it is timely and in the nation’s interest for the Philippines to join the global fight in combating infectious diseases and other potential health threats by creating an independent and competent national Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” he stressed.
Gordon is also the chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) which has taken a very active role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The PRC has always been an active partner of the DOH in addressing disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies.