March 3, 2024

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House of Representatives nods Bill creating PH Center for Disease Control

Philippines House of Representatives. Photo via UNTV Web

The House of Representative Committee on Health on Thursday, November 10 has approved the consolidated substitute bill that would create the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control, which was at the core of the health industry’s concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The consolidated proposed measure was the result of the merger of House Bill (HB) Nos. 9, 46, 159, 281, 359, 994, 1375, 1715, 2521, 2694, 2730, 2799, 2935, 2977, 3010, 3094, 3117, 3447, 3502, 3530, 3540, 3609, 3666, 4064, 4100, 4147, and 4778. House Speaker Martin Romualdez and Tingog Party-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre filed HB 9 last June 30.

Speaker Rumualdez representing Leyte 1st district, his wife, and Acidre, in its explanatory note said the bill seeks “to modernize the country’s capabilities for public health emergency preparedness and strengthen the current bureaucracy that is mandated to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in the country through organizational and institutional reforms.

During its deliberation to consolidate the 27 proposed bills to establish the CDC, lawmakers argued on the inclusion of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Communicable diseases are illnesses that can be transmitted or transferred to another person.

Examples of communicable diseases are chickenpox, Covid-19, Ebola, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, and AIDS, among others, while non-communicable diseases are heart diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

Iloilo 3rd district Rep. Lorenz Defensor raised the question, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Beverly Ho answered that the “best practices abroad” started with communicable diseases but eventually expanded to non-communicable diseases.

Another lawmaker, Batanes lone district Rep. Ciriaco Gato Jr., chair of the House Committee on Health, firmly stands that the country’s future CDC should include non-communicable diseases.

He reminded his colleagues of what happened during the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

“My opinion or my sentiment on this I think as the title suggests it is both non-communicable and communicable and we can’t separate a non-communicable disease from a communicable disease when you deal with health,” the Batanes representative said.

He also said that “Remember during this pandemic most of those who died because of Covid, which is infectious, are those with comorbidity that are non-communicable diseases. In the approach I’m sure most of our doctors and health workers we know that the approach sa to the patients is holistic”

Also, another lawmaker present during the hearing pointed out the urgency on the passage of the bill on the committee level and eventually, in the third and final reading, is “very timely, very responsive” as he also pushed for the operation of the CDC “earlier than two years.”