Solon seeks probe into PH’s readiness vs. respiratory illness surge

By Leonel Abasola

December 19, 2023, 5:20 pm Updated on December 20, 2023, 11:05 pm

<p>File photo</p>

File photo

MANILA – Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva has filed a resolution seeking to know the country’s preparation in case of global rise of respiratory illness and surge of other diseases.

Under his Senate Resolution (SR) No. 874, Villanueva noted that Chinese health authorities reported on Nov. 13 an increase in incidence of respiratory diseases in China,

The rise of respiratory illnesses was reportedly due to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the circulation of known pathogens such as influenza, mycoplasma pneumoniae (a common bacterial infection which typically affects younger children), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19).

In the United States, Fox 5 news DC also reported that hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care locations and clinics in Washington, D.C. are seeing an uptick in sick visits and both cases were confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Villanueva said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control also in its Nov. 23 report, noted that rates of respiratory illness, influenza-like illnesses and/or acute respiratory infection in the community were increasing in many European Union and European Economic Area countries.

“The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila noted that there has been an increase in cases of pneumonia in the hospital. According to the DOH (Department of Health), they have also observed an increase in influenza-like illnesses entering the last trimester of the year. They also observed that the recorded cases from January to October of 2023 is 45 percent higher compared to those recorded in the same period in 2022,” Villanueva said in his explanatory note of the bill released to the media on Tuesday.

Villanueva said the emergence of new flu strains or other viruses capable of triggering pandemics typically starts with undiagnosed clusters of respiratory illness.

He added that SARS and Covid-19 were first reported as unusual types of pneumonia.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic sent global shock waves and triggered the largest worldwide economic crisis in more than a century.

The economic impacts of the pandemic were especially severe in emerging economies where income losses caused by the pandemic revealed and worsened some pre-existing economic fragilities.

“During the surge in cases, data from the Philippine College of Emergency Medicine showed that emergency department operations were at 110- 150 percent rate. In contrast, DOH estimates that facilities operating at 85 percent of their capacity are already considered under ‘critical’ level of operation” Villanueva added.

He urged the DOH and other concerned authorities to enforce minimum public health standards and safety protocols to curb the rising number of cases and arrest any possibility of an outbreak.

Villanueva said health authorities should also ensure that there are adequate supplies of medicines and personal protective equipment, as well as intensified health information, education, and communication programs on the prevention of communicable respiratory diseases, including vaccination drives against influenza. (PNA)