Press Release
February 27, 2009

Gordon wants more R&D for ebola reston virus and other diseases

Deadly new diseases emerge and stronger strains of known diseases that are potentially harmful to both humans and animals come out almost everyday, such as the ebola reston virus that resurfaced in hogs in Central Luzon last year.

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon said that countries around the globe have to cope with this problem, but it becomes twice as hard for the Philippines to cope because of its weak research and development capability.

"The emergence of new diseases or the development of stronger strains of previously known diseases is now posing as a big problem because the health research and development system in the country is not that effective," Gordon said.

"Usually, only private hospitals that the poor could hardly afford have the capability and facilities to treat rare diseases," he added.

Gordon's call came as experts from the Office International des Epizooties, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization arrived in Manila to conduct a 10-day scientific study on the virus that has so far infected six people.

Based on Article 11, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution, Gordon explained that the government is mandated to "protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them."

He however added that access to health care system in the country, especially by the poor, is still hampered by financial, physical, social and cultural barriers.

To address the problem and ensure optimum health for every Filipino, Gordon proposed to strengthen the country's research and development that can fuel innovations that will lead to a responsive and efficient health care system..

"To help achieve the country's vision of universal primary health care services, it is not enough to be contented with the present capacity of the country's health care system," he said.

"The country must provide for a favorable research environment wherein government agencies, non-government agencies (NGO), public and private hospitals, academic institutions and private agencies can optimize their research activities," he added.

Gordon filed Senate Bill 3080 or the Philippine National Health Research System Act which proposes to institutionalize the Philippine National Health Research System (PNRHS) and create the Philippine National Health Research Fund (PNHRF).

The bill aims to produce knowledge through research; develop a national and global network of researchers, research organizations, and other members of the health research community; and to secure sustainable financing for health research and development.

It also aims to ensure public access to the information and other outputs generated by the health research systems; and encourage the utilization of research results in the form of products, technologies, programs and services; among others.

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