'Coronavirus scare a wake up call to strengthen RITM', says lawmaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2020 06:34 PM | Updated as of Feb 04 2020 07:02 PM

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MANILA - The coronavirus scare is a wake up call for the government to strengthen the functions of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, a lawmaker said on Tuesday.

"It's a wake-up call for all of us that we need to support RITM. Ngayon, I-review namin ang budget at tanungin sila ano ba kailangan ninyo? I'm sure, for a long time, meron silang proposals dyan to expand and ma-strengthen yung kanilang mandate," said Quezon Rep. Helen Tan.

On ANC's Headstart, Tan said the government must make RITM independent instead of creating a new body.

Tan said RITM has the same function as the Center for Disease Control of the United States which is to conduct and publish research and develop vaccines.

"Since nandyan na ang RITM, instead of creating a new one, expand it. If we need to rename, rename it and make it independent from the Department of Health," she said.

Tan also highlighted the importance of having a government-financed research and development program in the Philippines.

"Palagi tayong nakaabang sa anong development meron sa other countries. We do have scientists, researchers in this country. If you're not committed enough and invest on it and support this department or facility parang balewala," she said. 

Last week, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said he is pushing for the creation of a Philippine version of the CDC to address health hazards and infectious diseases.

As of Tuesday, health officials are monitoring 105 people for possible contraction of the 2019 novel coronavirus.