Cayetano puts CDC support on hold

The senator raises concerns on the proposed bill creating the virology institute.

Senator Pia Cayetano is holding support for a bill establishing a Center for Disease Control and Prevention as she sees its function overlapping with that of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

There’s a need to properly assess whether the RITM’s functions can be expanded before deciding on the proposed creation of a vaccine and virology institute, Cayetano said at the joint hearing on the CDC bill by the Senate Committees on Health, Finance, and Ways and Means on Thursday.

“Why would the Vaccine and Virology Institute need to be created as opposed to strengthening RITM’s function?” she asked officials of the Department of Health during the hearing.

RITM Director Celia Carlos explained that the functions of the CDC and RITM will not overlap as the latter’s focus is on humans while the proposed CDC will cover the “study of viruses affecting plants, animals, and humans.”

“The research component of the Virology Institute will cover not only research on viruses on humans but also viruses affecting animals and plants as well. So, it’s a very broad mandate for the Virology Institute. Whereas RITM is only focused on researches on humans, specifically on diseases of public health importance,” Carlos said.

The senator urged the DoH to create a technical working group that will resolve the concerns raised during the hearing.

“Once the bill is seamless, walang butas (no holes), I can sponsor it. But I cannot sponsor a bill kung may mga butas-butas (if there are holes).

Cayetano stressed that sponsoring a proposed measure relies on the technical inputs of resource persons or the TWG.

Meanwhile, Disease Prevention and Control Bureau Director Razel Nikka Hao said the health department is planning to include the CDC in the DoH structure, attached it to the Office of the Secretary and have it led by a director general.

Also, it shall be assisted by the Health Economic Service, Policy and Planning Office, Administration, Finance and Legal Affairs.

The proposed CDC shall be composed of Centers for Health Statistics, Epidemiology and Surveillance, Reference Laboratories, and Health Evidence.

The RITM is currently composed of Clinical Research, Laboratory Research, Biologicals Manufacturing, Administrative and Financial Divisions.

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