Nat’l reserve of critical medical supplies urged

A high-ranking House leader on Monday called for the creation of a “strategic national reserve” of critical medical supplies to ensure that life-saving pharmaceuticals, devices and equipment get to those who need them most during public health emergencies.

“We have to establish a sufficient national hoard of vital medical supplies as part of our overall preparedness and response to new large-scale disease outbreaks,” said Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel.

“As we can all see, our hospitals have been scrambling for essential supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), N95 respirators, aerosol boxes and contraptions needed to rescue COVID-19 patients from respiratory distress,” Pimentel pointed out.

The strategic reserve should also include all the materials needed to put up temporary medical stations where they may be needed during a crisis, according to Pimentel.

Pimentel said the reserve could be patterned after the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The SNS is America’s largest repository of medical supplies for release during emergencies severe enough to cause local stocks to run out.

Besides PPEs and air-filtration face masks, the SNS also has loads of antiviral drugs, broad-spectrum oral and intravenous antibiotics, IV fluids and kits, vaccines, antitoxins and airway equipment, among other items.

Meanwhile, Pimentel said he wants the Department of Health (DoH) to impose a new minimum in-country inventory requirement on all licensed manufacturers, importers and distributors of indispensable pharmaceuticals, medical gadgets and diagnostic tools.

“To assure the continuity of medical provisions, all hospitals – public and private – should likewise be subjected to a minimum in-facility inventory requirement at all times,” Pimentel said.

“If we can enforce a minimum (fuel) inventory requirement on petroleum firms operating in the country, surely we can also do the same on crucial medical suppliers,” Pimentel said.