Legislators mulling disease control agency

Jove Moya

FOLLOWING the announcement of a 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) case in the Philippines, Albay Representative Joey Salceda said is looking at the establishment of an agency similar to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Salceda said he would be filing a bill on the creation of such an agency, which will combine the resources of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau (DPCB), currently the office responsible for developing plans, policies, programs, projects and strategies for disease prevention and control and health protection.

"The plan is for it to be independent so that the DOH can focus on its regular public health function and maintenance of the entire health system; at the same time, we will have one single unit that gives the public a sense of confidence that we have institutions to address emerging diseases," Salceda said.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Salceda's proposal would present a long-term solution.

"The House is studying the timely proposal of our colleague Congressman Joey Salceda to create a Disease Prevention and Control Center in the Philippines," Cayetano said in a statement.

"We will also seek to increase the funding for health research, and improve the capacity of health facilities especially in the rural areas," he added.

The Speaker also called on the DOH to use its available funds to implement immediate contingency measures to ensure that medical facilities in the country are equipped to handle possible 2019-nCoV cases.

"We also encourage our local government units to support the DOH in reporting suspected cases of novel coronavirus in your communities. We are confident that all of the concerned government units are working together to prevent the spread of the virus to avoid the worsening of the situation," Cayetano said.

DOH Secretary Franciso Duque on Thursday, January 30, announced that a 38-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan has tested positive for the virus.

The highly contagious pathogen, which has caused an outbreak in China, has infected more than 8,000 people and killed 170. (SunStar Philippines)