THE Congress believes that the creation of the Philippine Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) Act would do a lot of good during the time of public health emergencies when it comes to procurement of essential commodities.
A total of 255 congressmen have been supportive to the House Bill 6522 or the Philippine (CDC) Act that will remove roadblocks in procuring commodities and services important for public health emergency response, including vaccines, therapeutics, medical devices, and ancillary supplies.
Quezon City First District Rep. Juan Carlos “Arjo” Atayde, one of the 173 principal authors of the bill that already passed on its third reading last December, said that it’s about time to push for the bill to become a law to avoid any more medical setbacks.
“In what we experienced during the pandemic, we, at the 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,” Atayde said.
“If there’s a CDC [law], we will avoid this kind of setback,” he added.
Atayde, 32, explained that HB 6522 has a provision that allows the Department of Health (DOH), local government units and private entities, among other authorized parties, to procure medical materials recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“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 time of public health emergencies,” he explained.
Atayde added Section 16 of the proposed law allows the DOH and authorized parties to immediately enter 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 DOH.
“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,” the Quezon City first year lawmaker said.
Vergeire, the officer-in-charge of the DOH, said last week the delivery of bivalent COVID-19 vaccine donation from the COVAX Facility has been put on hold.
The health department is currently exploring available legal remedies for the deal with the UN-backed international vaccine-sharing scheme to proceed.
The DOH also said it had secured some one million doses of Pfizer’s bivalent vaccines from the COVAX Facility, which target the omicron variant and the original form of the coronavirus.
The Senate counterpart of the bill, meanwhile, is currently pending on the second reading.