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Government prodded on vaccination plan

TWO House leaders want the national government to give a report or update on its COVID-19 vaccination program.

Deputy Minority Leader Stella Quimbo has filed House Resolution 1455 calling for an inquiry into the government’s plan on the distribution of vaccines and cost-effective implementation of the program.

On the other hand, House committee on ways and means chairman Joey Salceda has urged the national government to commit to a timeline and grand strategy for vaccine procurement, distribution, and rollout.

Most local government units (LGus), especially in the National Capital Region, are starting to make plans on how to give vaccines to their constituents. They have also allocated funds for vaccine procurement even before the national government decides what vaccines will be given to the Filipinos.

According to Quimbo, with the approval of the 2021 national budget additional appropriations are available for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, it is just proper for the national government to inform the public about its vaccination program.

“Tungkulin ng Kongreso na tiyaking walang masasayang na pondo dito. While there are reported negotiations ongoing with various pharmaceutical firms to acquire vaccines, I believe a clear plan is needed for how to maximize available funds across vaccine types, and to provide guidance on the amount of funds still needed. It is important to identify which vaccine brands are the most cost-effective.

“Dapat din busisiin ang plano ng pamahalaan ukol ang pamamahagi sa bakuna,” Quimbo added.

The lady solon stressed that there is a need to ensure that doses will be efficiently distributed across the regions and that the appropriate agencies are well-capacitated for that purpose.

“Sapat ba ang cold storage capacity ng bansa? Sapat din ba ang manpower, at ano ang training na kailangan? Ilan lamang ito sa mga tanong natin na nangangailangan ng kasagutan.

“What is the role of the LGUs and the private sector? What incentives are needed to ensure their optimal participation?

“The various ongoing efforts to obtain and distribute vaccines at the national and local level, as well as by the private sector, highlight the need for a coordinated system of monitoring,” she sad.

For his part, Salceda said government should provide the public with a timeline and its plan on vaccine rollout.

“We need a general direction. How many vaccines have we now procured? How many more are we procuring? What is now available? When will the rest be available? And how will we prioritize? These are essential questions that we hope the vaccine czar, Secretary Galvez, can help clarify for the public. Legitimate information is always the most effective way to fight the black market and avoid public confusion,” Salceda said.

Salceda said that a commitment to a timeline will also help the private sector and local governments align their plans with the national government.

If the plan is not communicated, the LGUs and the private sector will engage in a ‘free-for-all’ competition for vaccines at the cost of a more strategic and targeted national distribution, Salceda warned.

Publication Source :    People's Journal