Poe pushes for PH Center for Disease Control to boost disease prevention

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 28 2020 03:53 PM

FILE PHOTO: Senator Grace Poe speaks during a press briefing at the Senate of the Philippines in Pasay City on February 17, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Sen. Grace Poe on Tuesday filed a bill that seeks to create the Philippines' own Center for Disease Control (CDC) to "enhance the country’s expertise in disease prevention" as the coronavirus crisis continues to affect the country. 

Under Poe's Senate Bill No. 1450 or the Pandemic Preparedness and Response Act, the proposed CDC will "strategize and lead in communicable disease control and prevention and fortify the country’s preparedness and response to public health crises." 

"As the adage aptly puts it, 'An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,' and of course, much better than having to contend with huge socio-economic losses," Poe said. 

"We need to restrategize, restructure and reinvent our systems if we are to stay afloat and cope with the scourge and disruption brought about by COVID-19, including the threat of new diseases," she said.

Under the bill, the following Department of Health sub-agencies will be placed under the CDC:

- Disease Prevention and Control Bureau
- Epidemiology Bureau
- Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
- Health Emergency Management Bureau
- Bureau of Quarantine

The CDC will be in charge of setting "parameters for the declaration of the existence of an epidemic and/or public health emergency," according to the bill.

The agency will also "recommend the exercise of certain powers to the President in case of an epidemic," and coordinate with local and international health organizations "in the conduct of activities relating to disease prevention and control," it said.

Poe's bill also recommends the creation of a "medical reserve corps" or a team of volunteer health professionals that "shall be called into duty" in case of a pandemic.

"We need to catalyze support for a proactive and efficient health system with increased capacities to prevent and control the spread of new or recurring infectious diseases," Poe said.

The senator filed the bill as the Philippines continued to battle the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has infected at least 7,777 patients in the country, with 511 deaths and 932 recoveries as of April 27.

Globally, the pandemic - which originated from Wuhan, China - has sickened about 3 million people.