Press Release
February 13, 2023

"Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Act"
Session Hall, Senate of the Philippines
13 February 2023

Mr. President, my dear colleagues, it is my honor to co-sponsor the bill creating the "Philippine Center For Disease Control And Prevention, Defining Its Powers And Functions, And For Other Purposes."

As of February 11, 2023, a total of 4,074,563 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the Philippines, with 65,938 deaths, as reported by the Department of Health.

To this day, almost three (3) years since the virus hit our country, news reports have disclosed that there is a slight increase in the number of people testing positive for the virus. In fact, it was reported that as of February 11, 2023, the nationwide positivity rate was at 13.6%. Previously, the World Health Organization had recommended a 5% rate or less to control the pandemic effectively.

The onslaught of the pandemic highlighted the flaws in the Philippine healthcare system, exploiting the gaps in coverage, inadequate healthcare facilities, health disparities, and the country's inability to respond effectively in vulnerable environments.

The Department of Health (DOH) is continuously facing difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Amidst the outbreak of the virus, the DOH still had to manage other epidemics, such as dengue and typhoid fever. Moving forward, it must be able to set up and adopt a robust healthcare system that can respond to the needs of the nation and other new health issues.

The Constitution provides for the protection and promotion of the right to health of the people and the instilment of health consciousness among them. It also provides that the State is responsible for the adoption of an "integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health, and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost."

Hence, it is imperative that there be a National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will steer and coordinate the government's response to address illnesses and other threats to public health.

We have to adapt fast to the unfamiliar attributes of our new environment, as the global health emergency has now compelled us to live in the new normal. It has caused us to understand that our society, economy, and current institutions are weaker and less effective than we had anticipated.

Let us not wait for another outbreak to completely crack our already fragile and weak healthcare system. Instead, let us focus on sustainable reforms to effectively address ongoing and new issues in the health sector.

The right to health of every Filipino must be protected by the government. Everyone should have access to health services. The proposed policy will address not only the issues that COVID-19 has brought to our healthcare system but also ensure that our healthcare system is equipped to monitor, forecast, and develop precautions to control diseases of either national or international concern.

Mr. President, these are the reasons why I wish to associate myself with the proposed measure. With Senator Pia Cayetano's assent, I wish to be a co-sponsor of this measure.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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