Bong Go

Bong Go: Overcome COVID-19, be more prepared for future health crises

January 9, 2022 People's Journal 319 views

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go has underlined the importance of always strengthening the country’s healthcare system in light of the ongoing pandemic through sufficient government healthcare spending and passage of measures improving health crisis prevention and management in the country.

“Dapat patuloy nating palakasin ang ating healthcare system sa pamamagitan ng paglalaan ng sapat na budget para rito, pagtatatag ng mga bagong ospital at pagdagdag ng bed capacity naman sa existing hospitals,” said Go.

“Napapanahon na rin na magkaroon tayo ng mga institusyon na nakatuon ang pansin sa pagtugon ng mga health crisis gaya ng pandemya,” he added.

“Overcoming COVID-19 must be towards being more prepared for future pandemics and other health crises,” he emphasized.

Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, has consistently supported increases in the Department of Health’s budget during deliberations in the Senate, stressing the importance of focusing spending on health due to the threat of emerging COVID-19 variants.

“Now, more than ever, we need to focus our spending on health. As Chair of the Committee on Health, I will ensure that we have sufficient funds to improve our COVID-19 response and assist our recovery efforts,” said Go during the 2022 DOH budget deliberation.

To further improve access to quality healthcare in the country, Go has supported the passage of numerous local hospital bills, emphasizing the need to invest in the healthcare system, noting the country’s failure to invest in it for decades.

He also principally sponsored 24 laws for the upgrade or establishment of several public hospitals in the country.

“Kaya tayo nahihirapan ngayon. Kaya kulang ang mga ospital, mga kama at equipment dahil hindi natin ginastusan agad ang health system natin,” said Go previously.

“Kaya importante na matuto tayo sa COVID-19. Malampasan natin ito hindi lang para makapagligtas ng buhay ngayon pero para rin maihanda ang ating bansa kung sakaling may mangyaring ganito muli,” he added.

Go has also been pushing for the institutionalization of governing bodies for health crisis prevention and management, including the establishment of the Philippine Center for Disease Control and the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines.

He earlier filed Senate Bill No. 2158 which seeks to create the CDC that will assume the responsibility of protecting the lives of millions of Filipinos by monitoring, tracking, responding to, and mitigating outbreaks of infectious diseases and other public health emergencies in the country.

The CDC shall serve as the lead agency for developing and applying communicable disease control and prevention initiatives. It will be primarily responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases in the country.

It will also actively work to reduce threats to the nation’s health by providing consultation and assistance to other countries and international organizations to help improve their disease prevention and control systems and practices.

Go likewise filed SBN 2155, or the “Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines Act of 2021”, which aims to establish the institute which will serve as the principal laboratory of the country in providing virology laboratory investigations, researches, and technical coordination of the entire network of virology laboratories nationwide.

The bill provides for biosafety infrastructure and equipment needed in laboratories. The bill also specifies waste handling and management.

New COVID-19 cases have been rising in the country. On January 7, the DOH reported 21,819 additional new COVID-19 cases, the biggest single-day increase since September 18 of the previous year.

Go has reiterated the importance of abiding by the health protocols even after getting vaccinated to prevent more transmissions and protect those who are vulnerable to the disease, including healthcare workers.

“Umaapela ako sa mga awtoridad na bilisan pa ang pagbabakuna sa lahat ng mga eligible na sektor, lalo na iyong mga itinuturing na ‘poorest of the poor’, (upang) mabigyan ng kaukulang proteksyon ang ating mga kwalipikadong mamamayan at tuluyang makabalik na tayo sa normal na pamumuhay oras na makamit natin ang herd immunity,” he also appealed earlier.

Despite the rise in COVID-19 cases, Go emphasized data shows that vaccines work by preventing severe symptoms and death. Hence, he urged unvaccinated individuals to take this opportunity to protect themselves before it is too late.

“Sa mga hindi pa bakunado pero kwalipikado naman, nakikiusap ako na huwag na kayong mag-aalinlangan pa. Magpabakuna na po kayo dahil mas delikado kung unvaccinated kayo. Iyan ang totoo. Libre naman ang mga ito,” Go appealed.

“Karamihan sa pinakagrabeng tinamaan at namamatay dahil sa COVID-19 ay hindi bakunado, ayon sa datos ng DOH,” he added.

As of January 6, the government has administered nearly 111.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Some 51.6 million individuals are fully vaccinated while 57.4 million have received their first dose. In addition, 2.8 million have obtained their booster shots.