Senator Pia Cayetano, QC Rep. Angelina Tan push for creation of medical reserve corps amid COVID–19

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Senator Pia Cayetano and Quezon City Representative Angelina Tan plan to file measures for the creation of a medical reserve corps aimed at augmenting the healthcare workforce in times of pandemics such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID).

Cayetano and Tan, during a joint virtual press conference on Tuesday, said they were planning to file legislative measures for such purpose.

“We need to create that parang back up natin on the human health resource kapag nagkakaroon ng ganitong kaso ng pandemic,” said Tan, chair of the House committee on health.

Tan said that the ongoing mass hiring of the Department of Health (DOH) may not be enough.

On the other hand, Tan said that she is pushing for the creation of a Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, modernization of the DOH’s epidemiology bureau, and the establishment of more quarantine facilities.

“Kung magtatagal talaga itong pandemic na ito, magkakaroon talga tayo ng shortage kasi ‘yung exposure, mapapagod, and marami tayong nababalitaan na mga health workers natin, because of the problem with PPEs, doesn’t want to report now on their duties,” Tan said.

Tan said the medical doctors who are inactive in practice and other private clinicians could be on the first line of this medical reserve corps; medical school graduates who are underboard and nurses would follow; while other allied medical professions may also enlist to extend their help.

For her part, Cayetano said that creating such a body would serve as an important line of defense for “soft security.”

“Ito yung parang reserve natin ng armed forces… kasi kung may reserve force tayo for security—they call it hard security, ‘yung mga terrorism, ‘yung mga invasion—itong soft security kailangan din natin ng reserve force dito,” she said.

Further details on the proposal will be indicated in the bills that the two lawmakers are planning to file.

Cayetano also lobbied for the passage of the “Build, Build, Build for Health” bill which she filed last year in a bid to boost health infrastructure over the next five years.

“The timing for its discussion is perfect now. As we begin a new normal due to the COVID-19 threat, we need to be forward thinking and put health care infrastructure on top of our priorities,” she said.

Under the bill, an annual P10-billion budget shall be allocated for the improvement of health facilities in priority areas for five years.

“Given what we are currently experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am hopeful that this amount would be increased tenfold in the succeeding years,” she said./Stacy Ang

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