MANILA – Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva announced on Thursday that he has filed Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 874 seeking to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the preparedness of the country to detect, prevent, minimize, treat, and contain the reported global rise of respiratory illnesses, as well as the capacity of the healthcare system to handle a surge or outbreak of cases.
This as the Department of Health (DOH) recently reported that the country logged close to 200,000 cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) so far this year.
According to the DOH, overall ILI cases in the country stood at 182,721 from Jan. 1 to Nov. 11 this year, 51 percent higher than the 121,160 reported cases in the same period in 2022.
Pneumonia cases are also up by 46 percent, with 158,762 pneumonia cases reported from January to October this year, from 108,982 infections recorded during the same period last year.
"Handa po ba tayo sa respiratory illnesses na ito? Wala po bang dapat ikabahala ang ating mga kababayan (Are we prepared for these respiratory illnesses? Do our people need not to worry)" Villanueva asked.
"We have seen how the Covid-19 pandemic shocked the world, and its impact was staggering. We don't want a repeat of the Covid experience," he added.
Villanueva then urged the DOH and other concerned authorities "to enforce minimum public health standards and safety protocols to stem the rising number of cases and arrest any possibility of an outbreak."
"There is also a need to ensure that there are adequate supplies of medicines and personal protective equipment," the lawmaker said.
"These should come with intensified health information, education, and communication programs on the prevention of communicable respiratory diseases, including vaccination drives against influenza, Covid-19, pneumonia and other vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases," he added.
Meanwhile, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Chairman Junie E. Cua urged the public to be “extra careful” to avoid illness.
Cua said the public should continue practicing health protocols established during the pandemic to reduce the risk of getting ill, emphasizing that “prevention is better than cure.”
“Bagama’t lipas na ang pandemya, ang mga health protocols ay nagbibigay pa rin ng proteksyon laban sa mga virus na sanhi ng respiratory illness. Mas mabuti na pong umiwas dahil mahal magkasakit (Even if the pandemic has already passed, health protocols still provide protection from viruses that cause respiratory illness. It is better to avoid illness because treatment is expensive),” he said.
He urged Filipinos to heed the DOH’s advice especially for children, the elderly, and other vulnerable sectors to observe protocols such as voluntary masking, regular hand-washing, isolating when ill, ensuring adequate ventilation, and getting vaccinated.
The PCSO also received requests related to the medical assistance program. (PNA)