Pass proposed CDC law to avoid medical setbacks – QC lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines — A Quezon City lawmaker is pressing for the passage of a measure to establish the Philippine Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) to avoid setbacks in future critical health situations.
Quezon City 1st District Rep. Juan Carlos “Arjo” Atayde cited the current circumstances involving the government’s procurement of COVID-19 bivalent vaccines that was put on hold in reiterating his call to approve the proposed legislation.
According to Atayde, approving the measure will remove roadblocks in acquiring commodities and services needed for public health emergency response, including vaccines, therapeutics, medical devices, and ancillary supplies.
“In what we experienced during the pandemic, we, at Congress, believe it’s about time to continue fighting for this bill to become a law. For example our situation right now with the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine donations we are supposed to receive, it’s on hold at the moment,” he said in a statement.
“If there’s a CDC [law], we will avoid this kind of setback,” he added.
Atayde is one of the principal authors of House Bill No. 6522, which allows the Department of Health (DOH), local government units, and private entities, among other authorized parties, to procure medical supplies recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 6522 on the third reading last December, while the Senate counterpart measure was passed on the second reading in the upper chamber.
“As long as these health emergency materials are recommended by the WHO, Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), or by DOH-approved clinical practice or interim guidelines, they can be procured without hassle during times of public health emergencies,” the neophyte lawmaker explained.
Section 16 of the proposed law, he added, allows the DOH and authorized parties to immediately enter into alternative modes of expedited procurement with United Nations agencies, international organizations, or international financing institutions and their operational arms, such as the WHO, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), subject to the rules and policies set by the country’s health agency.
“In reality, one of the concrete options of the DOH to address the delay in the procurement of the bivalent COVID vaccines is the passage of the CDC Act. It’s Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire who already said it,” Atayde said.
Vergeire, currently the officer-in-charge of the DOH, said last week that delivery of COVID-19 bivalent vaccine donations from the COVAX Facility had been put on hold.
She also said that the DOH is now exploring available legal remedies for the deal with the United Nations-backed international vaccine-sharing scheme to proceed.
According to the DOH, it had secured some 1 million doses of Pfizer’s bivalent vaccines from the COVAX Facility, which target the COVID-19 Omicron variant and the original form of the coronavirus disease.
The issues hounding the procurement of the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility stemmed from the non-extension of the coronavirus-induced state of calamity edict by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
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