A lawmaker in the 19th Congress has filed a measure dubbed the Strengthening Public Health Emergency Response (SPHERE) Bill amid worries of future pandemics and similar health threats.

Abra Rep. Ching Bernos (middle) is sworn in by Speaker Martin Romualdez (left)

“The Covid-19 pandemic caught us off-guard, with preventive measures from the time of SARS not enough to push back against Covid,” Abra lone district Rep. Ching Bernos, author of House Bill (HB) No. 1877, said.

“With the potential pandemic-level diseases lurking around the corner, we need an initial response to ensure safety of our people,'” she noted.

“Right now, we in the Philippines are not fully knowledgable of the effects of monkeypox, so while our experts are figuring out how this disease might impact us, we need to establish general ‘ground rules’ applicable to every public health emergency in the country before we target the specifics of the situation,” Bernos, a former local chief executive of La Paz, Abra, continued.

Bernos’s measure seeks to comprehensively address not only medical concerns during a public health emergency, but also the creation of social and economic relief programs, monitoring of information dissemination, and maintenance of public order and safety.

The SPHERE Bill also calls for the creation of a Public Health Emergency Response Council composed of government and civil society entities that will approve and implement a national plan which shall provide an up-to-date, comprehensive, and multi-sectoral approach to preparing for and resolving public health emergencies.

The bill provides for initial preventive measures against widespread transmission, depending on the nature of a public health emergency, like implementation of community quarantines, restrictions on travel, limitations on mass gatherings, suspension of classes, and application of alternative working arrangements to ensure safety of all Filipinos.

“It is better to be proactive when these things happen. This comprehensive bill will help in laying out a continuous standard response when public health emergencies are identified by global and national authorities,” she said

“Monkeypox may not be a new disease like Covid, but the growing number of cases threatens our ‘new normal’ way of living. It will be again a challenge for all our leaders in national and local levels to meet the needs of our people,” Bernos further said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2022/07/30/solon-pushes-for-uniform-national-response-vs-health-threats/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=solon-pushes-for-uniform-national-response-vs-health-threats)