Senator Christopher ‘’Bong’’ Go on Tuesday sought the passage of the proposed creation of a Medical Reserve Corps as the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is straining the country’s medical personnel as a result of the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
Go, chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee, said this in his opening statement at the start of a public hearing on two medicine-related bills.
The other bill seeks the establishment of an E-Health System and Services.
Go said a strained medical personnel hinders their capacity to combat the disease immediately and effectively.
He said that in the recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte, he acknowledged the need for this measure and encouraged Congress to pass a law instituting the Medical Reserve Corps.
Go’s bill and the two health-related measures were authored by Senators Pia Cayetano and Imee R. Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee.
‘’Like any major crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought devastating effects to our society,” Go said.
‘’The surge of cases has caught the world off-guard and its escalation has overwhelmed us. However, this crisis also gives us an opportunity to introduce policies and systems that will make us more prepared to face crises of this nature in the future,’’ he said.
‘’Every single day since this pandemic started has been a learning experience for us in the government. We strive to do and be better each day. But we, in government, cannot do everything on our own. We need a whole-of-nation approach,’’ he added.
Go said the entire nation owes the country’s frontliners a debt of gratitude that could not be repaid.
‘’It is, therefore, my hope that you will not tire in helping your fellow countrymen and in lending your expertise for the benefit of our country,’’ he said.
Go’’s Senate Bill 1451 seeks to establish a Medical Reserve Corps which shall be composed of persons who have degrees in the field of medicine, nursing, medical technology, and other health-related fields but do not yet have their respective licenses to practice.
The members of the Medical Reserve Corps may be called upon and mobilized to assist the national government and the local government units in their functions related to addressing the medical needs of the public in times of national emergencies. Those who are deployed should be properly compensated.
‘’The establishment of the Medical Reserve Corps will uphold the role of medical and health-related personnel in nation-building and promote in them patriotism and nationalism,’’ he pointed out.
Another measure discussed in the public hearing is the establishment of the E-Health System and Services.
‘’As the pandemic continues to limit physical interaction and mobility and face-to-face transactions, the use of information and communications technology at this time has become apparent, and telemedicine became an alternative health delivery method. Marami pong gumagamit nito ngayon,’’ Go said. (Many are using this now.)
‘’The need for an up-to-date and easy-to-access health care system is indispensable at this time,’’ he added.
Go said he and Senators Ramon ‘’Bong’’ Revilla Jr. and Juan Edgardo ‘’Sonny’’ M. Angara have filed bills to institutionalize the system of providing e-Health services.
‘’The bills aim to regulate the practice of telemedicine and e-Health, and set the standards of practice in providing e-health services. This will recognize e-health as equal with other healthcare delivery methods, guarantee quality of service, and ensure patient safety and protection,’’ he said.
Go welcomed the inputs of various agencies, stakeholders, and experts to improve these measures that will help Filipinos not only overcome this pandemic, but also make them more prepared and responsive to any other health crisis.
He also appealed to concerned agencies to thoroughly study their proposal to reduce social distancing in public transportation.
Go said President Duterte has stated that the proposal be studied carefully.