Lawmakers want to institutionalize emergency plan for influenza pandemic

July 13, 2012 11:02 pm 

MANILA, July 13 — Lawmakers have moved to institutionalize an emergency plan that will enable the country to recognize and manage an influenza pandemic.

Reps. Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur) and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), authors of House Bill 6224, said a preparedness plan may help reduce transmission of the pandemic virus, reduce cases of hospitalization and deaths and maintain essential services to reduce its possible adverse economic and social impact.

The young Arroyo said the avian influenza pandemic bought to the world's attention the importance of having a comprehensive emergency plan in place to avoid unnecessary exposure to such a virus.

"Such a threat should be given serious attention by the Philippine government given its implications. Cases of highly pathogenic influenza have resulted in the death of the infected humans," he said.

Arroyo said no researches have been concluded to rule out human-to-human transmission of the avian virus.

"The severity and schedule of an influenza pandemic is not predictable. Scientists are concerned that the avian influenza virus could one day be able to infect humans for whom we have no immunity protection," he said.

Arroyo said the bill aims to conduct a comprehensive information dissemination and education campaign on the nature, causes, prevention and treatment of Avian Influenza in every community, in schools, government sectors and even provide mandatory education to all individuals traveling abroad, whether foreigners or Filipino citizens.

Under the measure to be known as the "Pandemic Preparedness Act," the Pandemic Emergency Council is established. It shall be responsible for setting up health care facilities and isolation centers which shall undertake pandemic prevention and preparedness services and activities and shall respond to any public health emergency, particularly avian influenza.

The bill gives all heads of families, persons in-charge of places such as hotels, boarding houses, schools, orphanages, medical practitioners and other health care providers the responsibility to inform the nearest city or municipal health officers if someone is suspected to be suffering with or has recently suffered from any infectious disease.

The bill mandates the Department of Health (DOH) in collaboration with the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Immigration (BI), and Local Government Units (LGUs) in the information dissemination campaign about the virus.

The bill likewise gives protection to all health workers through vaccination with the most recent seasonal human influenza vaccine. (PNA)

lgi/PR/utb

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