House Committee on People’s Participation Chairperson and San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida “Rida” Robes
By Romer Butuyan
MANILA — FOLLOWING the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has already identified 12 priority vulnerable groups that will be given anti-COVID 19 vaccine, once the latter is available and approved for use.
This was revealed by House Committee on People’s Participation Chairperson and San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida “Rida” Robes after leading a public hearing, through video conferencing, for the purpose of getting the latest information and updates on the clinical trial of three vaccines being done in the country.
According to Robes, first on the priority list of the government for administering the much-awaited anti-COVID 19 vaccine are frontline health workers both from the public and private sectors; indigent senior citizens and the remaining senior citizens; indigent population; and the government uniformed personnel.
“Other priorities are teachers and school workers from public and private institutions; government workers; essential workers in agriculture, food industry, transportation and tourism; socio-demographic groups; and significantly higher risk individuals like people deprived of liberty (PDLs), People with Disability (PWDs) and Filipinos living in high density areas; Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs); other remaining workforce; and students.” The lady House panel chair added.
It was also reported in the said committee hearing the initiatives being taken by the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in making sure that the government will be able to acquire its projected number of vaccines.
Among them is through the so-called COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, which Robes described as “a global sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccine once they are licensed and approved.”
Dr. Aleli Annie Grace Sudiacal, of Department of Health’s Bureau of International Health Cooperation, who were among the resource persons, stressed that COVAX facility pools together the world’s philanthropists, international non-governmental organizations and other groups to be able to talk to manufacturers to produce vaccines based on the need of a country, regardless of their economic standing.
“This way we will be assured that manufacturers will produce the amount needed to vaccinate this eligible population,” she added.
Aside from the COVAX facility, that will ensure the vaccines will be made available to Filipinos, Sudiacal said that government is also venturing into other options like talking to some 3 vaccine manufacturers for government to government procurement, domestic production and/or foreign donation.
Meanwhile, the official told the committee that the funding sources for the vaccine procurement may be from multilateral banks such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, local bank-facilitated loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines as well as direct contracting.
In response, Robes expressed elation over the latest vaccine development saying that it gives high hope to the Filipino people, who have long been hoping and praying for a vaccine for Covid-19.
“We would like to commend the tireless efforts of the President and the IATF to help our countrymen and find a vaccine. We are almost there I think. With these new developments, we will be able to go back to normal very soon,” Robes said. (AI/MTVN)