Press Release
November 19, 2020

Bong Go urges gov't to explore various options for COVID-19 vaccine procurement to ensure adequate supply; calls on DOH to enhance health promotion initiatives to educate public on vaccination plan

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go on Wednesday, November 18, said that government should explore various options in procuring COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that the country will have adequate supply once these are deemed safe, effective and available to the public.

During the period of interpellations in the Senate on the proposed budget of the Department of Health, Go said that funds had been allotted for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines with proposed augmentation to increase it further.

"Speaking of vaccines, it was discussed by the vaccine czar (Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr.) the other ways of procurement.... Ang pagkaalam ko, more than PhP2 billion lang ang pondo natin para sa vaccine at dinagdagan po ito ng House," Go shared during the Senate session.

"Isa po ito sa priority ng ating Executive na 'yung vaccine --lalong-lalo na po para sa mga kababayan natin na mahihirap, at wala pong access na naghihintay lang po sa safe vaccine," he added.

Go discussed several options for procuring the vaccines, saying, "one way is direct procurement through Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, or Republic Act 11494, (the) Bayanihan to Recover as One Act."

Go mentioned that the government may also avail of multilateral loans with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. "Ito po 'yung proposed by the Department of Finance," he remarked.

The Senator also said that bilateral loans are also being proposed by Department of Finance. Finally, the private sector may finance the procurement through a tripartite agreement between the national government, pharmaceutical company, private sector company -- with no cost to the government.

Aside from ensuring enough funds to procure vaccines, Go also called on the DOH to fully utilize its communications and health promotion budget especially during this pandemic. He said that the DOH should have enough funds to implement a nationwide information and education campaign regarding the vaccination plan.

"Kapag dumating ang panahon na mayroon nang vaccine at gamot laban sa COVID-19, hindi dapat natin pabayaan ang mga mahihirap, uunahin po natin sila. Maghanda ngayon pa lang, hindi lang dapat ang mga may kaya sa buhay ang makikinabang at makakakuha," he said.

Seeking updates of the immunization services for other diseases in the country, Go said that he wants to ensure that other equally important diseases that requires attention as well aside from COVID-19 shall also be prioritized.

"I urge the DOH to continue offering immunization services against measles and polio. Naka-focus tayo ngayon sa COVID-19 pero hindi natin dapat pabayaan ang mga programa natin laban sa ibang mga sakit," he said.

Go, meanwhile, shared that the Office of the President just recently released Administrative Orders providing for the issuance of special risk allowance to public and private health workers directly catering to COVID-19 patients, and Active Hazard Duty Pay to all Human Resources for Health serving in the frontlines.

"I hope that there will be no delay in the provision of these much needed assistance to our health workers. Let us fulfill all our commitments to our medical frontliners," he said.

Go, then, emphasized that support for the healthcare system is one of the pressing needs that need to be addressed during and even after this pandemic.

"We need to have a budget that would allow us to enhance our response efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19," Go said.

He also expressed his full support for the budget of the DOH and its attached agencies and corporations.

"I urge the DOH and other government agencies to ensure that every centavo of the people's money is put to good use, wisely spent, and used solely for the intended purpose. Dapat walang masayang ni piso," he ended.

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