Rep. Helen Tan announces P283-M funding for virology institute already secured

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The funding for the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) is already secure as it is already incorporate in the 2021 budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

In a Facebook post, Quezon Fourth District Rep. Helen Tan said the establishment of the VIP is timely and its budget is already part of the 2021 allocation for the DOST.

Kaugnay nito, ang inisyal P283 milyon na pondo para sa Virology Institute of the Philippines ay kasama na sa 2021 budget ng DOST. Napapanahon ang pagtatatag ng Virology Institute of the Philippines lalo na’t hinaharap ng ating bansa ang isang pandemya (In relation to this, the initial P283 million fund for the Virology Institute of the Philippines is part of the 2021 budget of the DOST. The establishment of the Virology Institute of the Philippines is timely especially now that the Philippines is facing a pandemic),” said Tan, the author of measure creating the VIP.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on third and final reading the measures seeking to establish the VIP and a center for disease control.

Both bills have been identified as priority measures by President Rodrigo Duterte in his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 26.

A total of 198 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill 9559, which proposes to create a research and development institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) called the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP). No lawmaker voted against the bill or abstained from voting.

The VIP shall serve as the premier research and development institute in the field of virology, encompassing all areas in viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants, and animals.

The institute shall establish strategic partnerships with the world’s leading scientists, virology centers, and institutes; and conduct innovative and pioneering research that will advance the frontiers of virology in the country.

It shall promote and undertake the transfer of the results of scientific research and development to concerned government agencies, industry, and academe.

An information system on virology science and technology for use by both the public and private sectors must be developed and maintained.

It proposes the creation of a Virology Research Fund, with an initial amount of P2 billion, to be used exclusively for the implementation of the Virology Institute Strategic plan.

Center for Disease Prevention and Control

Meanwhile, House Bill 9560, which seeks to modernize the country’s public health emergency preparedness through the creation of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), was approved on final reading with 193 affirmative votes, six negative votes, and no abstention.

The bill seeks to advance health modernization and institutional reforms to protect the public from further health risks.

The CDC would absorb the appropriate units under the Department of Health (DOH), including the Epidemiology Bureau, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, and selected functions of the International Health Surveillance Division, among others.

The bill seeks the creation of the CDC as a separate agency under the control and supervision of the DOH, but with broader policymaking, implementation, surveillance, disease control, and prevention powers.

The CDC shall serve as the principal agency mandated to develop and apply communicable disease prevention and control initiatives.

It also proposes a comprehensive health emergency management framework that includes provisions for vaccination and treatment, isolation and quarantine, and disease surveillance.

The bill mandates necessary reforms in the recruitment, training, employment and management of the country’s public health emergency personnel; development of relevant programs for the acquisition and upgrading of appropriate technologies, laboratories, and equipment; and provision for the needed relocation, improvement, and construction of facilities to enhance the country’s preparedness and response to public health emergencies.

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