Bong Go lauds ongoing efforts to locally manufacture and develop vaccines in the Phl

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go lauded the ongoing efforts of the national government, in coordination with the private sector, to boost the Philippines’ capabilities to locally manufacture and eventually develop its own vaccines. He said that this will allow the country to eventually veer away from reliance on the international market for vaccines and other medicines.

“Napakalaki po ng potensyal ng ating bansa na mag-produce ng sarili nating mga gamot at bakuna laban sa samu’t saring mga sakit. Napapanahon na po upang pag-aralan natin kung papaano tayo magiging self-reliant pagdating sa aspetong ito,” reiterated Go.

According to Go, who also serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, this initiative will not only help boost local vaccine supply, but can also help increase production of vaccines in the world market in the future.

In line with this, Go welcomed the active participation and show of interest of various pharmaceutical companies in locally manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines.

Late in March, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said that the Board of Investments has been in discussion with companies which are keen on producing COVID-19 vaccines locally.

During a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, April 15, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña also disclosed that the government is in talks with potential local vaccine manufacturers in a presentation on “Vaccine Self-Reliant Philippines”.

During the said meeting, the DTI also presented its ongoing efforts to help attain vaccine self-reliance by supporting local manufacturing initiatives.

“Bagama’t mid- to long-term solution ito sa ating hangarin na magkaroon ng sapat na supply ng ligtas at epektibong bakuna sa bansa, maging bukas ang ating isipan at suportahan natin ang mga ganitong inisyatibo,” Go said.

“Hindi natin alam kung ano pa ang mga idudulot na problema ng COVID-19 sa susunod na mga buwan. Hindi rin natin alam ano pang pandemya ang haharapin natin sa susunod na mga taon. Mas mabuting maging proactive at handa tayo,” he emphasized further.

Go also stressed the need to accelerate arrangements for public-private partnerships in manufacturing vaccines locally, with the DTI at the helm. He urged concerned agencies to support these initiatives and help expedite the setting-up process, but also asked the companies to ensure all requirements are met in accordance with existing laws and regulations.

“Mas magiging matagumpay ito kung magtutulungan ang gobyerno at ang pribadong sektor. We need to always adopt a whole-of nation approach to overcome these challenges,” he said.

“Hindi ito laban ng gobyerno lamang, laban ito ng buong sambayanang Pilipino at ng buong mundo. Kaya nga po bayanihan ang isinisigaw natin noong simula palang. Bigyan natin ng oportunidad ang lahat na tumulong,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go said that the establishment of a virology institute, which will eventually enable the country to develop its own vaccines and other related drugs against diseases, such as COVID-19, should be the long-term goal.

“It is for this reason that I recently echoed President Duterte’s call to establish a virology institute that will capacitate the country to conduct scientific research initiatives on preventing and treating various viruses and diseases,” he said.

Go said that this initiative is intended to avoid a repetition of the present situation where poorer nations are left with fewer supplies of vaccines as compared to richer and more developed countries that have early on invested in health sciences and medical research.

Acting as a venue for both local and international scientists to collaborate on studying viruses of agricultural, industrial, clinical, and environmental importance, Go mentioned that the proposed institute will serve as the premier research and development institute in the field of virology in the country. It will encompass all areas in viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants, and animals.

The government has already allocated an amount of PhP50 million in the 2021 General Appropriations Act for the detailed engineering design of the virology institute which is planned to be built in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. The institute project is one of the projects included in the government’s Build! Build! Build! infrastructure program.

Measures have also been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to institutionalize the proposed virology research.

Bong Go reiterates appeal for more modular hospitals and ICU beds to treat severe COVID-19 patients

Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go reiterated his appeal to concerned agencies to fast track the expansion and construction of additional modular hospitals equipped with COVID-19 isolation facilities and intensive care unit beds in order to address the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, especially in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

“Huwag nating hintayin na nag-aagaw buhay na sa labas ng mga ospital ang ating mga kababayang may sakit. Gawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para sagipin at gamutin sila,” began Go.

“I laud the continuing efforts of the government to provide more isolation facilities for people with mild and moderate COVID-19 cases; however, the need for more facilities that can handle severe and critical conditions must also be considered,” he stressed.

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘Talk to the People’ public address on Monday, April 12, National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. disclosed that the country is in need of 2,000 additional ICU beds to respond to the outbreak. Metro Manila hospitals altogether have 1,395 ICU beds at present.

To meet the demand, the government initiated several expansion projects with the aim of generating an additional 1,045 ICU beds for critical cases and 1,178 beds for moderate and severe cases. The projects include:

– 110 additional beds in Quezon Institute (moderate and severe);

– 960 beds from the National Center for Mental Health (moderate);

– 300 beds from the Manila Times College in Subic (mild and asymptomatic);

– 166 additional beds in New Clark City, Tarlac (mild and asymptomatic);

– 200 beds in Eva Macapagal Terminal in Manila (mild and asymptomatic);

– 100 beds in Orion, Bataan Port Terminal (mild and symptomatic);

– 280 hotel beds from Oplan Kalinga for the Philippine General Hospital, East Avenue Medical Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and Lung Center of the Philippines;

– 20 dialysis beds in National Kidney and Transplant Institute; and

– 88 beds in the modular hospital at LCP.

To further boost the healthcare system’s capacity, Senator Go urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to expedite its payments and settle its obligations to hospitals to ensure the unhampered provision of medical services. Both private and public hospitals in the NCR Plus area have committed to use the funds to purchase more new ICU beds.

“Ito pong pagdagdag ng mga ICU beds ng mga private hospitals and the LGU hospitals ay puwede naman po nilang gamitin ‘yong reimbursements from PhilHealth kaya malaki pong tulong ang … naging desisyon na magbayad kaagad ang PhilHealth, initially 60 percent ng kanilang outstanding claims starting March 2020 to April 2021,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during the President’s address.

SBG calls on gov’t for more Covid-19 isolation tents and ICU beds

As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, I appeal to concerned agencies, with the help of the private sector, to expedite the construction and expansion of more modular facilities and tents equipped with COVID-19 isolation and ICU beds to cater particularly to those with severe conditions.

I laud the continuing efforts of the government to provide more isolation facilities for people with mild and moderate COVID-19 cases; however, the need for more facilities that can handle severe and critical conditions must also be considered.

In order to maximize our resources, I urge the government to identify locations where we can install these modular facilities and tents equipped with ICU beds, or existing structures that can be transformed into temporary health facilities to accommodate severe COVID-19 cases.

We need to double our efforts in order to reduce further the waiting time for patients needing urgent treatment or admission, provide faster medical transport and patient pick-up, and facilitate much improved use of critical care services in our health facilities.

Nakakaawa po ‘yung mga kababayan nating naghihingalo na tapos wala pang mahanap na ospital. Buhay po ang nakasalalay sa bawat minutong pag-aantay makakuha lang ng ospital, kama, at doktor para maalagaan sila.

Huwag nating hintayin na nag-aagaw buhay na sa labas ng mga ospital ang ating mga kababayang may sakit. Gawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para sagipin at gamutin sila.

Moreover, we also need to augment our medical frontliners, particularly in critical areas where a significant number of them have been overburdened or, worse, also infected with COVID-19.

I laud the bayanihan efforts of nurses in the Visayas who expressed willingness to be deployed to the ‘NCR Plus’ areas. Patunay lamang po ito na sa kabila ng pandemya, malakas pa rin ang diwa ng bayanihan sa bansa.

I appeal to our health workers in other parts of the country with lower COVID-19 cases to also be ready to extend help in critical areas. In these trying times, we need a whole-of-nation approach to fully overcome this pandemic.

Bawat isa sa atin ay may tungkulin sa kapwa, sa ating komunidad, at sa ating bayan. Lahat tayo ay dapat maging bahagi ng solusyon. Laging tandaan na ang ating kooperasyon, bayanihan, at malasakit sa kapwa ay makapagliligtas ng buhay ng kapwa nating Pilipino!

First Congressional District Office distributes relief assistance to Bankerohan fire victims

DAVAO CITY – The office of the First Congressional District Representative Paolo Z. Duterte distributed on Sunday morning cash aid and rice packs to 84 people affected by a fire incident in Barangay 5-A Pag-asa in Bankerohan of this city.

Each recipient – composed of house owners, sharers, boarders, and renter – received a cash assistance and 10 kilos sack of rice from Rep. Duterte’s office. The distribution was held at Everly Homes, Don Isidro Village, Barangay 5-A around 1:30 p.m.

In the initial report from Davao City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), 350 families and 28 individuals are affected by the incident, of which 26 are house owners, 15 are sharers, 23 are renters, and 20 are boarders.

The fire gutted down 13 houses and partially damaged 15 other houses at Purok 5-A Pag-asa on April 1, Thursday, at 11:20 p.m. leaving the victims homeless. All victims are temporarily sheltered at a gymnasium in Bankerohan.

Davao Fire District Intelligence and Investigation Office head SFO4 Ramil Gillado said that the fire started at the house of a certain Ramon John Solite. He added that the fire occurred at the first floor of the two-storey house.

Investigation revealed that the ceiling was made of a plywood and was installed with lots of electrical wiring. The firefighters controlled the fire around 1:15 a.m. Damage to property was estimated at P500,000.

Barangay 5-A chief Edgar Ibuyan Jr. expressed his gratitude to the First Congressional District Office, especially to Rep. Duterte, for the help they had given to the affected families.

The district office has been giving food packs not only to its constituents, but also to other areas of Davao where people are in need of immediate assistance even amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.