IN anticipation of pandemics, health problems and also natural calamities, a House panel sees the need to have sufficient access to critical drugs and medicines for the people.
The House committee on health, chaired by Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan has approved the Health Procurement and Stockpiling Act.
The bill, which was principally authored by Tan, seeks to protect public health by addressing the problem of access to critical drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices, and materials in times of public health emergencies.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need to preposition critical and strategic pharmaceuticals and medical devices as well as the supply of raw materials. The country needs to be proactive in its response to public health emergencies”, Tan said.
The bill will create the Health Procurement and Stockpiling Bureau under the Department of Health (DOH).
It will absorb the existing Procurement Service and the Supply Chain Management Service and serve as the principal agency mandated to undertake a transparent, fair, proactive, and innovative procurement service for the DOH.
It will also be tasked to stockpile, conserve, and facilitate the release of adequate amounts of potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals, vaccines, devices, and materials in times of public health emergencies.
Its critical functions include the identification of strategic and critical drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices, and materials needed for public health emergencies that have the distinct capability of being stockpiled in strategic and secure areas of the country; supplementation of drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices, and materials to state supplies acting as a stop gap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices, and materials may not be immediately available; and ensuring the rotation, replenishment, and freshness of stocks and that there exists at all times steady, available and adequate supply of drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices, and materials, which are essential in responding to public health emergencies.
The Health Procurement and Stockpiling Bureau will also lead in facilitating the creation of a conducive environment to encourage pharmaceutical and device self-sufficiency for medical supplies needed by the country and spearhead the crafting of a multi-sector National Drug and Device Security Program geared towards the country’s self-reliance in producing drugs and medicines, vaccines, devices, and materials.
Based on the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) Mission report, the Philippines, due to its location, is one of the most natural-disaster prone countries in the world and in the past decade the country has faced challenges in making solid progress in infectious disease control.
Because of this, Tan said the country’s preparedness in times of public health emergencies is significantly necessary such as during pandemics and natural disasters.”
COVID-19 has caught the country and the world flatfooted, which affected the global and local production and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical devices as well as the supply of raw materials, active pharmaceutical ingredients, excipients, packaging materials including finished medical products needed to combat the pandemic and other diseases.
Some countries’ imposition of limits on export of medicines and medical supplies/equipment such as facemasks, shields, and ventilators to mitigate critical shortages in their countries has likewise aggravated the situation.