Joey Sarte Salceda

Salceda urges 19th Congress to pass CDC charter

June 11, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 380 views

HOUSE Committee on Ways and Means Chairman and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Sarte Salceda on Saturday called on his colleagues in the incoming 19th Congress to enact the Center for Disease Control (CDC) charter, which he principally authored, as experts suggest that monkeypox infections may be “harder” to detect or diagnose.

Salceda appealed in response to an advisory from the United States (US) Center for Disease Control (CDC) that cases of monkeypox that are being detected at the moment do not necessarily display the usual symptoms, making the disease more difficult to diagnose.

“We have seen presentations of monkeypox that are mild and sometimes only limited areas of the body, which differs from the classic presentation seen in endemic countries in Western Central Africa,” said Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC.

As of June 9, around 1,300 cases had been identified worldwide.

“These infections, whether mild or serious, will come to the Philippines. As I’ve learned in my term as Governor of Albay, nature will come at you, so you have to have the capacity to deal with it. You have to have the institutions, the surge capacity, the culture, and the resources to adapt,” Salceda said.

“We will get more zoonotic diseases or diseases that come from animals, as the world begins to lose more natural habitats to farming or urbanization. That will mean more interactions between humans and wild animals, and therefore, more chances of zoonosis,” Salceda said.

“Of course, part of the long-term solution is to prevent these habitats from being denuded. As one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, we have to play a big part in that. And we have to ask the world for help in preventing the loss of natural habitats in the country,” he said.

“When I was Governor of Albay, we were among the few places in the world to grow our forest cover instead of shrinking them. So, it’s definitely part of the solution,” according to Salceda.

“But, in the short-run, we need to brace ourselves for more infectious diseases like monkeypox, like COVID-19, human-infectious avian flu, and others. These things will come more often, as habitats decline, as climate change accelerates disruptions in nature, and as worldwide travel resumes,” he said.

Salceda’s proposal would have created a Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an umbrella for existing infectious disease units of the country, with expanded health emergency powers and a staff complement of trained responders to “sudden-onset” health emergencies such as COVID-19.

The unit would have separated infectious diseases from the core bureaucracy of the Department of Health (DOH), but would have kept it attached to the Secretary of Health.

Salceda said, “the separation and capacitation is necessary because infectious diseases of a mass scale are not ordinary health concerns. They require a capacity to deal with waves, as opposed to the more predictable concerns from lifestyle or chronic diseases.”

“I hope President Marcos will also prioritize it, as PRRD did. Sayang, it was sponsored in the Senate floor, but there was not enough time in the 18th Congress,” he said.

“So, I will refile it, and this time, we will hopefully be able to get it through Congress. Because the infections you want to deal with will not go away,” Salceda said.

No cases of monkeypox have been reported in the Philippines yet, but the DOH has earlier announced its measures to prepare for the disease.

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