PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has urged the government to prioritize using locally-made syringes to address the supply shortage that risks stalling the country’s vaccination program.

The Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer stressed the problem must be addressed as the government nears its goal of inoculating 50 percent of Filipinos by the end of the year.

Maganda na ang development ng ating pagbabakuna ngunit kung ito ay panandaliang hihinto o babagal dahil sa kakulangan ng supply sa hiringgilya. Nararapat na magawan ito agad ng paraan dahil buhay at kaligtasan ng ating mga kababayan ang nakasalalay,” Marcos said.

[Our vaccination program is proceeding well now, but it could be disrupted or delayed by a shortage in the supply of syringes. This should be resolved immediately as the lives and safety of our people are at stake].

The Department of Health (DoH) earlier reported a global shortfall in syringe supply, which prompted them to use an alternative needle. That syringe was initially intended to test patients for tuberculosis, but is now being used for the mRNA vaccines, specifically Pfizer and Moderna.

Marcos stressed that it would be better if the national government procured the syringe from the local manufacturers instead of letting LGUS source it.

He added supporting local manufacturers of medical supplies would create more jobs and help stimulate economic recovery.

Marcos also said sourcing the syringes locally will ensure consistent supply and replenishment since the country will not rely on outside sources that may be affected by global supply chain issues.

The issue of tapping local manufacturers of pandemic supplies has been one of the recurring themes of an ongoing Senate investigation into the use of billions in funds for face masks, shields and Covid test kits. Resource persons at the Blue Ribbon hearings said the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) had given priority to foreign, mostly Chinese, suppliers, leaving local manufacturers in limbo even though they spent huge sums to retrofit their manufacturing to ramp up production of the face masks, PPEs and shields, upon suggestion of Trade and Industry officials

Speaking partly in Filipino, Marcos Jr said it is important to “support our local enterprises. That will also  ensure us that the supply is available in timely manner. Supporting our local manufacturers is a big help to them and will help them create jobs and grow our economy” in the time of recovery.

As of now, there are only three local manufacturers of syringes in the country, which is why Marcos said there is also a need to establish start-up companies to help develop local production.

The National Task Force Against Covid-19 said the country has already received a total of 123,258,340 Covid-19 vaccine doses since February. Of this number, 69,713, 994 were already administered to Filipinos.–

Image courtesy of JOEY RAZON PNA

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