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House passes on final reading bill creating PH Center for Disease Prevention and Control

August 1, 2021 People's Tonight 276 views

THE House of Representatives has approved a priority bill creating the Philippine Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

Quezon Representative Angelina “Helen” Tan, sponsor of the substitute bill as Chairperson of the health panel and one of the principal authors, welcomed the approval which she said is urgently necessary as the country, just like most of health systems in the world, is ill-prepared to address the challenges of pandemics such as the COVID-19.

Tan also thanked the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco for supporting the swift passage of the measure.

“The bill seeks to modernize the country’s capabilities for public health emergency preparedness and strengthen the current bureaucracy that is mandated to address communicable diseases in the country through organizational and institutional reforms”, Tan said.

To better prepare against public health emergencies, we need to embark on two essential initiatives: health modernization and institutional reforms. We cannot merely keep on rearranging the boxes within our health organization without capacitating our health personnel and resources. That will not work. We need to modernize and reorganize our health system at the same time to protect the public from health risks”, Tan added.

The bill mandates necessary reforms in the recruitment, training, employment and management of the country’s public health emergency personnel; development of relevant programs for the acquisition and upgrading of appropriate technologies, laboratories, and equipment; and provision for the needed relocation, improvement, and construction of facilities to enhance the country’s preparedness and response to public health emergencies.

Once enacted, the CDC will be created as an attached agency to the Department of Health (DOH) and serve as the principal agency mandated to develop and apply communicable disease prevention and control initiatives. It will serve as the technical authority on all matters regarding disease prevention and control.

It will remove the function of addressing the communicable disease concerns from the DOH and transfer this mandate to the CDC, after absorbing the existing Epidemiology Bureau; Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM); Sexually Transmitted Disease – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (STD-AIDS) Cooperative Central Laboratory; Select functions of the International Health Surveillance Division of the Bureau of Quarantine such as the passive international health surveillance and development of communication methods for wider and more effective delivery of critical public health information with international importance; Technical and standard setting functions of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau including that of the Mental Health Division, Cancer Division and Oral Health Division.

The CDC will be imbued with the following powers, functions, and duties: Policy and Standards Development; Capacity Building and Technical Assistance; Sectoral and Local Engagements; Surveillance; Technical guidance on the monitoring and evaluation framework for disease prevention and control; and Certify the existence of an epidemic which shall be treated as a public health emergency, among other functions as may be mandated by law.

In her sponsorship speech, Tan underscored that while the measure is primarily about addressing the need for the Philippines to have its own CDC as articulated by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his SONA, the heart of the proposal is really the development of a measurable and time-bound modernization program that will strengthen the human health resource and response to disease prevention and control in the country.