PGMA: All government hospitals must be AH1N1–ready

May 26, 2009 2:09 pm 

MANILA, May 26 — Despite the absence of a “clear and present danger of the spread of the AH1N1 virus” in the country, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to make sure that all state hospitals nationwide are prepared to handle such cases.

In a briefing during the joint National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) meeting held today, Tuesday (May 26) at the Petron Office in Pandacan, Manila, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the President saw the need to prepare for the worst thus the need to make an “over all preparations.”

Duque said that thus far, the identified referral centers for suspected AH1N1 cases include are the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the Vicente Sotto Memorial Hospital in Cebu City, and the Davao Medical Center, also in Davao City.

He stressed, however, that the AH1N1 virus has not yet reached pandemic level and there is no need yet for an additional budget. The P1-million fund from the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) will be used to stockpile vaccines, he explained.

In a related development, Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said it’s all systems go for the school opening on June 1 despite the two confirmed cases of AH1N1 in the country.

“It is not prudent to postpone the opening of classes as we would be answerable to some 43,000 schools,” Lapus said.

Lapus emphasized that DepEd’s decision to postpone the opening of classes, if at all, will depend entirely on the Health Department’s advice.

“DOH will advise us if situation warrants,” he said, adding that what is important is for everyone to be alert. An alert system in schools nationwide has been set in place, he added.

At the same time, Lapus said the President issued guidelines to be made available to all school administrators, teachers, students and parents “for them to know exactly what to do to prevent the spread of the virus.”

In another development, Health Secretary Duque branded as “baseless” the travel advisories against traveling to the Philippines issued by the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

“I’m surprised. There is no basis. It defeats logic. We should be issuing the travel ban ahead of them as they have more cases…but I’ll have to check this out with the Department of Foreign Affairs,” he said. (PNA)

DCT/OPS/ssc

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