MANILA – Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin is proposing the appointment of a laboratory czar to oversee the country’s testing for coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Garin, who co-chairs the House of Representatives’ Defeat Covid-19 Committee health cluster, made the proposal during its virtual meeting on Thursday.

Garin stressed the need for timely test results and simplified laboratory operations, noting that a laboratory czar should be installed so that all Covid-19 laboratories are aligned and are maximized to their full capacity.

She said the Covid Laboratory Czar shall facilitate the timely release of results to allow local government units and hospitals to immediately containing the infection.

The czar must report to the public the updated inventory of test kits to resolve panic.

Garin, a former Health secretary, also pushed for the continuity of other public health programs apart from efforts against the virus, considering that there has been increasing mortality among non-Covid-19 patients.

“In a pandemic, we target reduced morbidity and mortality. We look for the virus, isolate, and make it extinct. But we continuously take care of our people, remembering that other illnesses kill. Public health is complicated, but if united, we are more capacitated,” she said.

Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, another chairperson of the DCC health cluster, cited the importance of bridging the gaps in the current information dissemination system.

Tan urged the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to aid the Department of Health (DOH) in cascading accurate and latest updates for Filipino families to understand that the fight against Covid-19 “begins at home.”

Tan said the government must intensify contact tracing efforts and be aggressive in addressing the stigma that has caused front-liners, patients, and their families to be discriminated against.

Tan also proposed the creation of a “War Council” to provide further assistance to the DOH as it addresses the crisis. The council shall consist of representatives from the government, the private sector, and the academe.

“Dito nakita natin kung anong klaseng healthcare system ang mayroon tayo (We see in this situation what kind of healthcare system we have). We could have responded better, but we still have time,“ Tan said.

“Naniniwala tayong may panahon pang ayusin ang sistema ng pangkalusugan (I believe we still have time to fix the healthcare system). We really need to invest in health. Together, let us fight Covid-19 and heal as one,” she added. (PNA)

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