Creation of medical reserve corps to deal with COVID-19-like crisis pushed
MANILA, Philippines — Two lawmakers are pushing for the creation of a medical reserve corps in the event of a similar pandemic like the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis that is currently buffeting the country.
In a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday, Senator Pia Cayetano said she is drafting at least three bills which would be similar to the ones already filed by Quezon Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan which seeks to ensure the country’s pro-active approach to responding to possible health crises or pandemics.
“I will file the same bill that she (Tan) for [coordinated efforts],” Cayetano said.
Tan, chair of the House health committee, was also in the teleconference with Cayetano, who sponsored the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act in the Senate.
These bills include measures that would institutionalize a national health security council, require the establishment of quarantine facilities across the country, and the creation of a Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Those are the three bills we are working on. Hopefully, we could arrange these with the (House) leadership so that we would be allowed to conduct virtual hearings starting May 4 onwards,” Tan said.
Medical reserved corps
Cayetano said that under her bill on the creation of the national health security council, the said body would also be tasked to form a medical reserve corps.
“I’ve been doing a lot of research on it, I include the powers of the council to create that,” she said.
According to Tan, the proposed medical reserve corps would have “layers” that would indicate which medicals workers would be placed in the first to the third lines of defense.
1) First line of defense – medical doctors who are actually not in active practice or the retired physicians
2) Second line of defense– medical graduates and nurses who, under the Medical Act of 1959 can be called by the health secretary for limited functions
3) Third line of defense – allied health professionals
Cayetano said she and Tan could also consider drafting a separate bill to outline details of the proposed medical reserve corps.
Tan underscored the need to create a “back-up human health resource” should another pandemic hit the county.
Although the Department of Health) has a mass hiring policy, the congresswoman said they believe that’s not enough. If “this pandemic would continue for a long time,” it would erode the country’s health manpower, the legislator said.
“So technically the medical reserve corps, you will only create another layer that will call on these people whenever they are needed,” she said.
She said they’re not categorized as volunteer status, adding “we need to incentivize them.”
To date, Philippine health officials have confirmed 7,958 COVID-19 cases in the country.
Of the number, 975 have recovered while 530 have died.
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