Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, has called on the government to ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially for the poor and vulnerable sectors.
“Dapat sagutin ito ng gobyerno, lalong-lalo na sa mga mahihirap nating kababayan na wala pong inaasahan at wala pong access kung saan kukuha ng vaccine (The government must shoulder this, especially for our poor countrymen who have no means to access the vaccine) ,” Go said during an interview after extending assistance to typhoon victims in San Pablo City, Laguna on Saturday, November 7.
When asked about the President’s choice as the vaccine czar, Go expressed his support for the designation of National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. as vaccine czar.
“Kami ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, uunahin namin ang lahat ng mga mahihirap, lahat ng mga vulnerable sector para makabalik na tayo sa normal nating pamumuhay. Basta safe na ‘yung vaccine. And, rest assured, as the committee chair, isusulong ko, uunahin ko ang kalusugan ng bawat Pilipin,’’Go explained. (I and President Duterte will prioritize all the poor, all the vulnerable sectors so we could go back to our normal lives. Once the vaccine is safe. And, rest assured, as the committee chair, I will push, I will prioritize the health of every Filipino),” he continued.
Go reiterated his commitment to introduce and push for measures that promote and protect the public’s health.
Go reiterated his position that he has full confidence in General Galvez.
‘’We need somebody with knowledge in logistics, supply chain, and crisis management. Let’s support him),” he said.
He stressed the need for a single chain of command to ensure the vaccine’s orderly and swift distribution to the public.
As vaccine czar, the former military chief shall be primarily responsible for the purchase, negotiation, manufacture, production and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine once it is available.
“Hindi kailangan [ng health expert] kasi distribution, financial ang kailangan nito at well-coordinated dapat ito sa baba sa pagdidistribute nitong vaccine (A [health expert] is not needed because what we need here is somebody who is good in distribution, financial, and well-coordinated on the ground when it comes to the distribution of the vaccines),” Go said.
“[Dapat] handa ang accessibility, affordability, mga storage ng vaccine at saka financial scheme kung paano babayaran ito. Makikipagcoordinate [siya] sa ating finance manager. Paano babayaran, saan kukunin at paano ang distribution? [Dapat] ‘yung distribution down to the level ng mga kababayan natin, lalo na sa mga lugar na walang access,’’ he stressed. (The accessibility, affordability and the storage of the vaccine must be ready, as well as the financial scheme on how to pay for it. How to pay it, where to get it and how the distribution will be made? The distribution down to the level of our countrymen, especially in areas that have no access.)
Recently, Go called on the DOH and concerned agencies to develop an overall strategy for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to the general population.
He also asked the government to ensure the speedy and uninterrupted supply of vaccines in the country by putting in place a national strategy to secure the supply chain for the COVID-19 vaccine, medicines and other related health commodities.
Go specifically urged authorities to prepare cold storage facilities and other equipment needed for the inventory, use and distribution of the vaccines.
“Huwag natin pabayaan ang mga ordinaryong Pilipino na kailangan na makabalik sa normal na pamumuhay upang maibangon mula sa kahirapan ang kanilang pamilya,’’ he added. (Let us not forsake the ordinary Filipinos who need to return to their normal lives and save their families from poverty.)