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Biazon pushes for creation of Public Health Emergency Council

Biazon pushes for creation of Public Health Emergency Council

MANILA, Philippines — Amid the threat brought by the novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV, a lawmaker has filed a bill for the creation of a council that would formulate a plan for the prevention, detection, management, and containment of public health emergencies.

Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon filed on Tuesday House Bill No. 6081, which seeks the establishment of the Public Health Emergency Council.

Biazon said that the government, more often than not, has responded to public health emergencies in a “knee-jerk manner,” thus underscoring the need for a plan to address these emergencies.

“There is lack of coordination among vital and concerned agencies in order to effectively address a public health emergency,” Biazon said in the bill’s explanatory note.

“Moreover, the country lacks a cohesive plan for the prevention, detection, management, and containment of public health emergencies,” the lawmaker added.

Under the bill, the Council shall be convened when a State of Public Health Emergency is declared to advise the President on courses of action that may be taken in the event that a public health emergency occurs and in order to perform its mandate.

The Council shall also formulate a Public Health Emergency Plan (PHEP) which will serve as the framework for the government’s response to any public health emergencies.

Declaration of State of Public Health Emergency

Under the bill, the President may declare a State of Public Health Emergency upon the recommendation of the secretary of health and immediately convene the Council.

The state of public emergency will last for 60 days, unless extended or terminated earlier by the Council.

When a state of public health emergency is declared, the Council may:

  • require privately-owned health care facilities to provide services or the use of their facilities;
  • to close, direct an compel the evacuation of, or to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated, any facility which may endanger the public health;
  • to control pharmaceutical agents or medical supplies and devices;
  • to isolate or quarantine individuals or groups of individuals;
  • to ensure the safe disposal of remains of a suspected or known victim of an infectious disease;
  • to centralize and manage information about the public health emergency and the government’s response and other actions or orders that may be deemed necessary to carry out its objectives

“I am hoping that this time, it will be passed into law to ensure that in the next outbreak of an infectious disease, which is certain to happen, government will have the means, the policy and the legal basis to respond immediately and effectively to safeguard the people’s health,” Biazon said in a separate statement.