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Senate inquiry sought on Philippines' response vs. flu-like illnesses

Senator Joel Villanueva has filed a resolution seeking to identify the Philippine government’s preparedness to possibly detect, treat, and contain the respiratory illness that is now prevalent in China and other countries.


Based on Senate Resolution No. 874, Villanueva tasked the appropriate senate committee to also look into the capacity of the country’s healthcare system to handle a surge or outbreak of respiratory illness, should there be any. 


“[T]he emergence of new flu strains or other viruses capable of triggering pandemics typically starts with undiagnosed clusters of respiratory illness. In fact, both SARS and COVID-19 were first reported as unusual types of pneumonia,” the resolution read. 


Villanueva said that the Department of Health (DOH) and other concerned authorities need to enforce minimum public health standards and safety protocols to address the rising number of cases that may possibly cause an outbreak. 


He also emphasized the need to ensure that there are enough supplies of medicines and personal protective equipment (PPEs), as well as intensified health information, education, and communication programs on the prevention of communicable respiratory diseases, including vaccination drives against influenza, COVID-19, pneumonia, and other vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases. 


Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Eric Tayag said last week that the bacterial infection which was tagged among those causing the surge of respiratory illness in China, particularly among children, seemingly works like COVID-19.


Health Secretary Ted Herbosa, however, clarified that there is no outbreak of mycoplasma pneumonia or “walking pneumonia” in the Philippines. 


Aside from mycoplasma pneumonia, the DOH also attributed the respiratory case increases in China to respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, and influenza.—NB, GMA Integrated News