MANILA — The Department of Health on Thursday said it was consulting experts on where to place the proposed National Disease Prevention and Management Agency after President Rodrigo Duterte said in his State of the Nation Address that it should be under the department.
“On the matter of whether this is a separate agency or an attached agency of the DOH, this is still for discussion as we iron out its mandate and functions in line with the DOH,” the DOH said in a statement.
It said it is also consulting with relevant stakeholders.
On Monday, Duterte read his speech mentioning the creation of a “National Disease Prevention and Management Authority to better respond to future outbreaks.”
But after calling on Congress to support its creation, Duterte quipped, “I don’t know but I’ll leave it to Congress to really… It’s another department. There seems that it could be a multilayer redundant thing between the health [department] and the proposed department.”
The DOH said that it originally suggested the creation of the Philippine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PH CDC) and that there are several bills in Congress proposing its establishment.
“Establishing a PH CDC will help ensure that the Philippine health system is well-prepared to forecast, prevent, monitor, and control emerging and re-emerging communicable diseases and threats both of national and international concern,” the DOH said.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services.
The DOH said it saw the urgency for a PH CDC “with the challenges faced by the country in the COVID-19 response in terms of preparedness and response capacities.”
It said the center would help improve the delivery and conduct of public health functions and ensure “operational readiness for disease surveillance, strengthen epidemiologic reporting systems, increase manpower and technical capacity, and further strengthen laboratory capacity, from the national down to local level, which the World Health Organization (WHO) sees as enabling for timely, efficient, and effective response for emergencies.”
The Philippines has seen an increasing number of COVID-19 cases over the past month after quarantine restrictions were eased to revive the crippled economy.
As of July 29, there have been 85,486 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 26,996 recoveries and 1,962 deaths. Several hospitals have reported full capacity, while health workers were complaining of understaffing.