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Marcos reiterates call for establishment of virology, disease control centers

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Thursday pushed anew for the creation of a virology center and a disease control center to help improve the country's healthcare system.

Marcos graced the 15th Philippine National Health Research System Week held at the Grand Ballroom, Marriott Hotel in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga. Also present were Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairperson Prospero de Vera.

"I’m sure you know, I have presented to the Congress, both Houses of Congress, the proposed creation — the creation of the Virology Center of the Philippines," Marcos said in his message during the event.

"So that we can consolidate in a better way all of the disparate research, all the different sources of knowledge, all the different sources of research and new data. We can put it together and be more coordinated as opposed to what we had to work with during the pandemic," he added.

"And secondly, of course, is the creation of our own Disease Control Center here in the Philippines — so that we are ready for the unfortunate warnings that we are always getting that this is not going to be the last pandemic, at least not in our lifetimes," Marcos said.

Marcos said he has been in consultation with the House of Representatives and the Senate "to create these agencies so that we can bring them to bear in what we are up to now continuing to have to fight."

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go has refiled a measure which seeks to create the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the 18th Congress, the House of Representatives approved on final reading bills seeking to establish the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and a virology research institute in the Philippines.

However, the bills in the Senate did not prosper.

Meanwhile, the President said the Philippines is still at primary research when it comes to the pandemic, noting the importance of information from various agencies to address the health crisis.

"So we must really be very wary of getting fixed and say this is what it is. Because we know, it evolves, it mutates. And after a couple of months, it is not what it is any longer," he said.

"And that’s why the openness of mind, the continuing flow of information between all of the different agencies has become crucial, has become critical, and has been again, to say it again, the key to what successes that you have enjoyed," he added.

Further, Marcos said risk communication is likewise crucial in the time of pandemic and in the time of all disasters.

"What are practical approaches to preventing and mitigating harm? How can we prepare the Filipino people and disseminate information to vulnerable sectors much more effectively than we have been able to do so far?" he said.

"We can answer these questions if we delve deeper into responding to challenge towards our recovery and our resiliency," Marcos added. 

Meanwhile, Marcos also hailed Filipino health researchers for their continuing sacrifice and hard work amid the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I always start with a note of gratitude and of thanks for your sacrifice and for the risks that you take, and all that you have been able to do to help us through this pandemic," Marcos said.

"It is nothing less than having you have helped to keep millions of people alive. There is nothing more heroic in my mind than what you have achieved," he added. — RSJ, GMA News