By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Bohol 1st district Rep. Edgar Chatto has sought the establishment of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for Visayas to be located in his home province in a move to strengthen the region’s response against any health threats.
He filed House Bill No. 6886, citing that it is “imperative” to establish RITM facilities in the Visayas to improve the region’s response and management of infectious and tropical diseases, including COVID-19 in the future.
“Having an RITM facility in Bohol would greatly ease and expedite processes especially in emergency cases not only in the province but the whole Visayas region. It will ensure the presence of trained personnel specifically in handling infectious disease and special health cases. Ultimately, it will ensure the best response, referral and handling of such health concerns within the specialization of an RITM facility,” Chatto said in his bill’s explanatory note.
“COVID-19 will not be the last health threat that we will face as a nation. With the seamless world now, in terms of travel, we will always be vulnerable to contagious diseases. Preparing, thus, is our best defense,” he said.
Under HB 6886, Chatto proposed that a 100-bed capacity RITM for Visayas be established and it shall be located at the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital at the municipality of Cortes in Bohol.
RITM-Visayas shall be constituent special hospital of the RITM and shall be administered by its existing Board of Trustees, according to the bill.
The measure provides that RITM-Visayas shall undertake research activities in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of tropical diseases of public health importance, as well as produce vaccines for the control of vaccine-preventable diseases.
The RITM-Visayas, under HB 6886, will be headed by a Medical Director to be appointed by the Secretary of Health upon the recommendation of the Board.
The bill seeks P2 billion funding for the establishment, initial operation, and maintenance of the RITM-Visayas, and thereafter, such amount necessary for its continued operation of the RITM-Visayas shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
HB 6886 tasks the Secretary of Health and the Board of the RITM to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of the proposed Act.