MANILA – The House of Representatives on Monday approved on final reading a measure that seeks to introduce essential activities that are required to minimize the danger and impact of acute public health events that endanger the collective health of the country’s population.
With 191 affirmative votes, 6 negative votes, and no abstention, the chamber passed on third reading House Bill 9561, which seeks to establish a health security national action plan and strengthen institutional capacity to implement disease prevention, surveillance, control, and response systems.
It also seeks to implement contingency plans to deal with public health events and emergencies, deliberate release of biological or chemical agents intended to harm civilian populations, or attack to the health care delivery system.
It proposes the creation of a Philippine Health Security Council (PHSC) that will be tasked to craft a national health security plan.
House committee on health chair Angelina Tan, said the national health security plan shall be a country owned, multi-year, planning process that can accelerate the implementation of the country’s International Health Regulations (IHR) core capacities.
“It captures national priorities for health security, brings sectors together, identifies partners and allocates resources for health security capacity development. It also serves as an overarching process to capture all ongoing preparedness initiatives along with the country’s governance mechanisms for emergency and disaster risk management," Tan said.
Tan said the proposed measure will provide and institutionalize the needed synergy with the landmark Universal Health Care Act (UHC) and bring into fruition the completion of the "other side of the coin under the ambit of health systems strengthening policy mechanism".
Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr., who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, had underscored the need to pass the Philippine Health Security Act in response to the current health crisis, saying this proposed law will complement the UHC Law by scaling up the nation’s health care system in preparation for another pandemic that may hit the country.
“We have to dedicate our time or really have a subsistence for the next pandemic. I believe the UHC that we have promoted and enacted is not yet enough. We have to work for a Health Security Act in order for us to fully bridge the valley of death,” Galvez said. (PNA)