MANILA – A leader of the House of Representatives on Monday suggested the creation of a strategic national reserve of critical medical supplies in the event of a public health emergency.
Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel said an emergency stockpile of life-saving pharmaceuticals, devices, and equipment for healthcare workers is necessary, noting that such essential supplies are running low as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues to spread.
“We have to establish a sufficient national hoard of vital medical supplies as part of our overall preparedness and response to new large-scale disease outbreaks,” Pimentel said.
“As we can all see, our hospitals have been scrambling for essential supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), N95 respirators, aerosol boxes and contraptions needed to rescue Covid-19 patients from respiratory distress,” Pimentel said.
He said the strategic reserve should also include the materials needed to put up temporary medical stations at critical areas during a crisis.
He added that the reserve could be patterned after the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) managed by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The SNS is America’s largest repository of medical supplies for release during emergencies severe enough to cause local stocks to run out.
He also proposed the imposition of a new minimum in-country inventory requirement on all licensed manufacturers, importers and distributors of indispensable pharmaceuticals, medical gadgets and diagnostic tools.
“To assure the continuity of medical provisions, all hospitals — public and private — should likewise be subjected to a minimum in-facility inventory requirement at all times,” Pimentel said.
The recently-signed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act allows the expeditious procurement of goods, which may include PPE such as gloves, gowns, masks, goggles, face shields; surgical equipment and supplies; laboratory equipment and its reagents; medical equipment and devices; medical supplies; and testing kits for Covid-19 response.
Luzon has been placed under enhanced community quarantine from March 17 to April 12 to prevent the spread of Covid-19. (PNA)