MANILA – A party-list lawmaker on Friday proposed the creation of an Epidemic Management Commission (EMC) to primarily deal with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and epidemic-preparedness in the future.
In a statement, Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin said the country needs a permanent body that will not only serve as the “institutional memory of our collective experience on the coronavirus”, but shall also have the mission to provide better defenses and countermeasures against lingering Covid-19 effects and future epidemics.
“As early as now, we need an exit strategy. The IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) is an ad hoc body, busy with day-to-day matters. For the years ahead, we need this commission as a permanent structure,” Garbin said.
Garbin said the EMC can be initially created through an executive order, and Congress can institutionalize it with a bill containing its formal charter.
He noted that the EMC should have its own epidemiology and quarantine unit, a governing body like the IATF, and coordination authority over the network of molecular and microbiology laboratories nationwide.
“What I also have in mind for future epidemics are molecular laboratories that are mobile quick deploy units, perhaps in the form of a small fleet of hospital ships manned by a corps of highly-trained health professionals,” he said.
“These ships can be built at the shipyard in Bataan. With these hospital ships, we can respond to outbreaks and epidemics in the most remote areas of our country,” he added.
He said the EMC could be temporarily attached to the Office of the President for administrative and budget purposes, noting that it can be transferred to the Department of Disaster Resilience once the latter is operational.
As of Friday, the confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country breached the 7,000th-mark with a total of 7,192. (PNA)