DOH expects Duterte administration to pass three health bills

Marje Pelayo   •   July 27, 2021   •   249

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday (July 26) that a bill to establish Philippine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a health bill for the creation of a Virology Institute will be passed in Congress.

The Chief Executive believes in the capability of experts to create our own medicines and drugs against viruses and diseases.

But he was not able to mention the emergency funds and benefits that could further suffice the needs of medical frontliners.

The Department of Health (DOH) was expecting that the president would mention the extension of COVID-19 emergency funds like having Bayanihan 3.

On the other hand, President Duterte did not forget to express his gratitude to all medical frontliners who are continuously sacrificing for the country’s COVID-19 response.

Since the pandemic began, there are more than 21,000 medical frontliners who got infected with COVID-19.

Most of them recovered but more than 100 of them succumbed to the disease.

Meanwhile, the Health Department is really hopeful for the passage of three health bills before Duterte’s term ends.

Like what chief executive said, one is the establishment of a Philippine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Philippine CDC).

One of its components is the creation of virology institute

“Katulad ng sinabi ko sa inyo noong isang linggo, we have the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control Bill. Ito yung naglalayong magkaroon tayo ng highly technical institution kung saan researches, surveillance, laboratories, ay maintegrate natin sa isa kasama po ang mga eksperto na tutulungan tayo for this institution para mas magkaroon tayo ng proactive response during times of public health emergencies,” explained Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Also , the DOH expects the passage of a Medical Reserve Corps Bill.

“We also have the Medical Reserve Corps Bill, kung saan ito yung act providing for the development administration, organization, training, maintenance, and utilization of Medical Reserve Corps,” Vergeire noted.

“This is also in relation to what happened to us dito po sa pandemyang ito. The third health bill is the Health Security Bill. This will strengthen the Philippine health security, emergency preparedness, readiness and response of the country in times of health crisis,” she added.

President Duterte said the government is trying all its best to respond to the needs of Filipino saying: “Bahay muna, bago ang lahat.”

He reported that during his term, although not perfect, testing capacity, hospital beds, facility and isolation beds have increased.

Mega and modular quarantine facilities were also established in over a year’s time.

Likewise, with the limited COVID-19 vaccine supply that the country has, 17 million Filipinos have received their first dose; 36 million doses of vaccines are expected to arrive, with over 30 million already administered to the priority sector.

He also said, the country can no longer afford another lockdown but with the threat of Delta variant, if it is already needed he would not hesitate to decide to prevent the spread of more transmissible and deadlier COVID-19 variants of concern like the Delta variant. -MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

No more face shields outside, only in 3Cs — Duterte

Marje Pelayo   •   September 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  President Rodrigo Duterte approved on Wednesday (September 22) the recommendation of the technical advisory group of the Department of Health (DOH) and medical experts to lift the order of mandatory face shields outdoors.

Instead, the President limits its use only in 3Cs or in ‘closed, crowded, and close contact’ areas.

“Pwede ng tanggalin sa labas. No more face shield outside, Ang limitasyon ng faceshield, gamitin mo [sa] 3Cs, closed…whatever facility – ospital o basta magkadikit dikit. Crowded ganoon rin. It’s a crowded room tapos closed lahat, mas delikado. Saka ang closed contact kung magkadikit dikit ang tao. So diyan applicable pa rin ang face shield,” he said.

Duterte explained that he ordered the mandatory use of face shields because he was worried about the surge of Delta variant cases.

“[Ang] sabi ko, takot ako lalo na pagdating ng COVID (Delta). I got so scared that I ordered the reimposition of the face shield. Ang akin naman, sabi ko maski gaano kaliit ang contributing factor niya to avoid COVID, okay na lang,” he said.

Following this development, the government is set to issue guidelines on the use of face shields.

“I have ordered that the implementation guidelines be issued immediately,” the President said.

Duterte’s decision came after House Speaker Allan Velasco asked him through a letter to reconsider the policy. The lawmaker cited experts’ studies indicating that the combination of face shields and masks made little difference over the use of masks alone.

COVID-19 antigen test para sa mga maghahain ng COC, hindi inirerekomenda ng DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Hindi sang-ayon ang Department of Health (DOH) sa paggamit ng antigen test ng mga maghahain ng kanilang certificate of candidacy o COC sa Oktubre.

Una nang inanunsyo ng Commission on Elections (COMELEC) na magtatakda ito ng antigen testing booth kung saan idaraos ang COC filing ng mga kakandidato sa 2022 elections na hindi makapagsusumite ng RT-PCR test result.

Kabilang sa mga requirement ng COMELEC ang pagprisinta ng negative result sa sinomang tatakbo sa pagka-pangulo, vice president, senator o party-list representative na magsusumite ng kanilang certificate of candidacy, gayundin ang kanilang mga kasama sa araw ng COC filing.

Pero ayon kay DOH Undesecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, may akmang gamit ang rapid antigen test kaya hindi ito ang dapat na gamitin ng COMELEC.

Batay sa DOH Covid-19 management protocol, ang mga rapid antigen test ay para lamang sa mga may matas na viral load o flu-like symptoms, maging sa mga may exposure sa COVID-19 positive at mga nakatira sa mga lugar na may clustering o surge ng kaso.

“We don’t recommend the rapid antigen test kits to be used as a screening test for people who will vote or for people whose going to join in events. Kaya nga sabi nga namin last week, kailangan appropriate ang use para walang question as the results that will come out if ever we use it,” ani Vergeire.

Magpupulong muna aniya ang DOH at COMELEC kung ano ang mga dapat na ipatupad na protocol upang masegurong ligtas at hindi maging dahilan ng hawaan ng COVID-19 ang isasagawang paghahain ng COC ng mga kakandidato sa darating na halalan.

“Makikipag-ugnayan din tayo because the COMELEC naman po nakikipag- ugnayan sa atin, nakikipagusap sa atin tungkol sa mga health protocols. Kasama pa rin po kami sa nagbibigay ng recommendation, we will be discussing this with them para po appropriate na mga testing protocols ang maisagwa natin sa mga ganitong events na ito,” ang pahayag ni Vergeire.

Sa Oktubre na nakatakdang simulan ang paghahain ng COC para sa mga nais tumakbo sa 2022 elections.

Duterte orders probe into PRC’s ‘false positive’ COVID-19 test results

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday directed the Department of Health (DOH) to look into complaints of ‘false positive’ COVID-19 test results from the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

During his pre-recorded Talk to the People address, the president said he has received reports of numerous false-positive cases from PRC laboratories.

He cited that 44 out of 49 or 89.79 percent of total hospital personnel who tested positive in PRCs molecular laboratory turned out negative when retested in another laboratory.

Duterte further reported that 187 out of 213 personnel of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) tested positive in the PRC Manila laboratory but tested negative in their confirmatory test.

The President also claimed that personnel of the Department of Finance (DOF) likewise had cases of false-positives from PRC.

Duterte criticized Senator Richard Gordon and asked about the veracity of the number of COVID-19 cases in the country given that there are false positive cases.

“Because of this information, then maybe the DOH must investigate the matter.  You could be putting people at risk. You could be falsely adding to the total positive cases per day of this country,” he added.

Duterte also accused the senator of diverting his pork barrel funds to the PRC. The president reported that the PRC has an audit of P86,815,433.24 attributed to Gordon. The President said he also wants an investigation to be conducted on the matter.

“Gusto ko malaman, tumanggap ka ba ng P88 million sa Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) mo? Pinarking mo ba ang PDAF  mo so you co-mingle it with money of the Red Cross and Congress iyong nakuha mo? Now, the money is lost forever, it cannot be accounted for, if this is true,” Duterte said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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