MANILA – Flexibility and urgency from both the Department of Health (DOH) and its attached agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can save more lives than the restrictive regulations imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Wednesday.
“South Korea has reported having flattened the Covid-19 curve through mass testing, not lockdown. What we lack is the ability of the DOH to be more flexible,” Lacson said in a statement.
He pointed out that hundreds of thousands of rapid test kits for donation by some local businessmen and procured from South Korea and China have arrived at least over a week ago, yet a big volume is still held by the Bureau of Customs despite being already in use in those jurisdictions, “having been certified by their regulatory agencies.”.
Lacson noted that the FDA still refuses to issue even a provisional accreditation, which is needed so the same test kits can be distributed for use particularly by those who have symptoms or those who have had direct contact with infected persons, even on a “do-it-yourself” basis.
“As of last Monday, when we were deliberating on the just-signed Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, we tested only 1,500 Filipinos, more or less. With a population of 107 million, the worst is yet to come unless DOH and FDA act with urgency,” he said.
“That, instead of overly restrictive regulations imposed by our DOH, will certainly help obviate a possibly uncontrollable spread of the Covid-19,” Lacson said as he proposed an amendment in the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which is now Section 4 (j) of RA 11469.
“The provision aims to ensure that donation, acceptance, and distribution of health products intended to address the Covid-19 public health emergency are not unnecessarily delayed and that health products for donation duly certified by the regulatory agency or their accredited third party from countries with established regulation shall automatically be cleared: provided, this shall not apply to health products which do not require a certification or clearance from the FDA,” Lacson said.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which allows him special powers to step up the government’s fight against Covid-19.
The signing of the law came amid the implementation of an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon until April 12 to curb the spread of the disease.
Following the signing of the law, President Duterte now has the authority to adopt and implement measures to prevent the further transmission of Covid-19, which included the authority to expedite the medical testing for the virus and the immediate treatment of people who contracted the disease, among others. (PNA)