Amid the country’s persisting low child immunization coverage that increases the country’s risk of disease outbreaks, Senator Win Gatchalian continues his push for the creation of the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines.
The number of unvaccinated children dropped from 1 million in 2021 to 637,000 for those born in 2022. However, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized that more work needs to be done to reach the ideal coverage of 95%. According to the Department of Health (DOH), as of last year, vaccine coverage among the eligible population of young children nationwide stood at 59.9%.
A 2022 research paper by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) revealed that while vaccine confidence is a factor in the low immunization coverage in recent years, deep-seated supply-side system issues also contribute to the country’s low vaccine coverage. The PIDS study also identified leadership, planning, and supply chain problems that led to recurring vaccine stockouts in the past decade.
Under the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines (VIP) Act of 2022 or Senate Bill No. 941, Gatchalian seeks the provision of initiatives to boost local vaccine development, sustain production, and boost technology transfer.
The proposed measure seeks to create the VIP, which shall serve as the premier research and development institute in the field of virology, encompassing all areas in viruses and viral diseases in plants, animals, and humans.
Among the powers, functions, and duties of the proposed VIP are the undertaking of scientific and technological research and development (R&D) in the field of virology; the conduct of product R&D in the areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines, among others; and the transfer of the results of scientific research and development for use of both the public and private sectors.
The research outputs of the VIP shall also be integrated into other plans relating to the management of public health emergencies relating to infectious diseases, as well as disease control and prevention.
“Kasabay ng paghhikayat natin sa ating mga magulang na pabakunahan ang kanilang mga anak, mahalagang matiyak din na may sapat tayong suplay ng bakuna at may kakayahan tayong magsagawa ng pananaliksik at mga pag-aaral. Patuloy nating isinusulong ang paglikha ng Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines upang matugunan ang mga pangangailangang ito ng ating mga kababayan,” said Gatchalian.