Task force formed to fight emerging infectious diseases

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In a bid to protect public health, President Benigno Aquino 3rd has created a new inter-agency task force that will contain emerging infectious diseases in the country.

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The President signed Executive Order (EO) 168 on May 26, 2014, establishing the Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID), which will be led by the Department of Health, to ensure that the government is prepared to respond to and control any potential outbreak of diseases in the country.

Members of the task force are the Foreign Affairs, Interior and Local Government, Justice, Labor and Employment, Tourism and Transportation and Communications departments.

“Considering the threats [to]and potential adverse effects of these EID [on]our people and economy, it is essential for the government to intensify its efforts [to control these diseases],” Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said.

“The creation of the task force is necessary to institutionalize efficient government response to assess, monitor, contain and prevent the spread of EID in the country and among Filipinos working overseas,” he added.

According to Ochoa, the emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERs-CoV), as well as recurring threats of meningococcemia, leptospiroris, antimicrobial resistant tuberculosis, among others, justifies the establishment of the task force.

Under the EO, the task force will establish a system in managing the dangers posed by recurring and emerging EID in order to properly identify, screen and assist Filipinos suspected or confirmed to be infected. Part of its mandate is to prevent and minimize the entry of suspected or confirmed patients with EID into the country.

The task force can enlist, if necessary, the help of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies, among others, in enforcing quarantine orders or facilitating the transport of EID patients.

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