PGMA orders DOH to ensure readiness of hospitals in handling A(H1N1) cases

May 26, 2009 2:09 pm 

MANILA, May 26 – President Gloria Macagapal-Arroyo on Tuesday directed the Department of Health (DoH) to ensure readiness of all state hospitals in handling Influenza AH1N1 cases despite the absence of a “clear and present danger” of the disease spreading nationwide.

In a briefing during the joint National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)-National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) meeting held on Tuesday 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 included 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 said, however, that the AH1N1 virus had not yet reached pandemic level and there was no need yet for an additional budget.

The P1-million fund from the National Disaster Coordinating Council would be used to stockpile vaccines, he said.

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

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

Lapus also said the President issued guidelines that would 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 Duque branded as “baseless” the travel advisories against 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)

RMA/JCA

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