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Institutionalize task force for public health crises: councilor

A legislator seeks to institutionalize the Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases (EREID) program in the City Health Office (CHO).

“We kept on reactivating this task force (EREID) every time there’s an outbreak, why not make the EREID a permanent program of the city government?” councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, committee chair on health, said in an interview with reporters on Tuesday.

She said that the city already has an EREID task force, but it still needs to be reactivated. The first move is to reactivate the said task force first. “Last week we had the local board meeting, and one of the local board resolutions passed is to reactivate our existing task force in CHO,” she said.

She also said that the team has already been trained and merely needs reorganizing.

“The EREID task force of the city was notably the most advanced and most highly trained unit during the Ebola outbreak in 2014,” she said, adding that the said team was also activated multiple times during the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Villafuerte also said that the action is a response to the declaration of a public health emergency by the national government.

“Instead of reactivating them every time there is an outbreak, we can just institutionalize this task force so that we can immediately seek their help during a possible outbreak,” she also said.

“There is a need to institutionalize the EREID task force for it to be more effective in meeting the extraordinary demands of securing the public from infectious diseases through various modes of promotion, protection, and intervention,” she also said.

The task force will be composed of concerned agencies such as the Department of Health, CHO, Bureau of Quarantine, Philippine National Police, and the Bureau of Fire Protection. Villafuerte said they will conduct a committee hearing on the matter.

Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte also issued Memorandum Order No. 12 or the mandatory sanitation of all Sangguniang Panglungsod (SP) attendees.

“The SP, being a publicly reached place for its nature as a government institution that caters transactions from different people, it is only right to disinfect the place as well as the people. This (is) also to protect the public,” Villafuerte said.

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