Bong Go

Bong Go: We should invest more in our healthcare system

July 27, 2022 People's Journal 208 views

FOLLOWING the declaration of the World Health Organization (WHO) classifying monkeypox as a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC), Senator Christopher “Bong” Go once again underscored the need to intensify the country’s surveillance systems and further strengthen the healthcare system.

In an ambush interview during the first regular session of the 19th Congress on Monday, July 25, Go, who heads the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, stressed, “Nadala tayo noong nakaraang pandemya. I remember, nagkaroon tayo ng hearing noong February nung nabalitaan ang COVID-19 na pumasok sa China. Naging problema natin nakapasok na po. (Kaya naman) the more we (need to) intensify our surveillance.”

“Itong monkeypox na ito, higpitan pa ang surveillance at ‘wag na nating hayaang mangyari muli ang nangyari sa atin na kumalat ang sakit. So eye opener po yung nangyari sa atin the more we should invest sa ating healthcare system,” he reiterated.

The Department of Health said that there has been no confirmed case of monkeypox in the Philippines so far. It then reassured that it has been coordinating with other concerned agencies to prepare against the virus ever since an increase in cases was reported globally.

WHO has issued temporary recommendations (TRs) to countries that might be affected by the virus as there have been recent reports of monkeypox outbreaks in European countries, United States of America, Australia and Canada.

The disease is a rare illness caused by the monkeypox virus from the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. Monkeypox symptoms were found to be identical to smallpox symptoms, according to experts. However, monkeypox is less contagious and less severe than smallpox.

Fever, rashes and swollen lymph nodes are among the common symptoms. Human-to-human and animal-to-human transmissions are both possible.

Meanwhile, as the 19th Congress officially opened, Go reaffirmed that he will continue to support and develop more initiatives that will focus on improving the country’s healthcare system.

“Ako naman po bilang Senate Committee Chair on Health, nakatutok po ako na palakasin pa at susuporta po ako sa administrasyon ni Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. lalo na po dito sa ating healthcare system,” Go vowed.

“The more we should invest sa ating healthcare system at maging handa tayo (at) maging proactive tayo. ‘Wag nating hayaang magkandarapa na naman tayo, hindi natin alam ang gagawin natin. So importante maging handa kung meron pang darating na pandemic,” he emphasized.

“Suportado ko rin ang panawagan niyang huwag na maglockdown. Basta siguraduhin lang natin na kaya ito ng ating healthcare system dahil, para sa akin, una at pinakaimportante sa lahat ay ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” added Go.

The lawmaker recently renewed his appeal for the enactment of his twin bills to further strengthen the country’s capacity to address threats of infectious diseases. Among these measures is Senate Bill No. 2158 which seeks to establish the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If signed into law, the CDC will be the lead agency for developing communicable disease control and prevention initiatives. It will also focus on controlling the spread of infectious diseases in the Philippines.

Some of its major functions will include investigating potential cases of public health emergency; enforcing regulations to prevent the spread of communicable diseases; procuring and distributing vaccines, antibiotics and other medical supplies; and working with other countries and international organizations to improve disease prevention and control systems and practices.

Meanwhile, Go likewise filed SBN 2155 which shall establish the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP). The facility shall be the principal laboratory for virology research and laboratory investigations as well as the lead technical coordinator of the nationwide network of virology laboratories.

Under the said bill, the VIP will boost the development and access to new vaccines against diseases such as COVID-19 to make certain that the country has sufficient supplies of emergency vaccine doses.

President Marcos Jr., in his first State of the Nation Address, has vowed to establish the Philippines’ own CDC and virology institute.

“Masaya po akong marami siyang (Marcos) nabanggit na mga priority niya na part rin po ng na-file ko sa Senado – itong Virology Institute at Center for Disease (Control), and to strengthen our healthcare system. Nakatutok po ang gobyerno to improve our healthcare system at mas maging lagi tayong handa,” Go concluded.