DOH hopes Duterte's last SONA will highlight need for PH CDC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 24) – The Department of Health on Saturday expressed hope President Rodrigo Duterte's sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) will highlight the need for the country's own Centers for Disease Control or CDC.

Duterte will deliver his last SONA on Monday, July 26, at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

"Ang isang gusto ho namin talagang i-push (What we really want to push), which is now with the Congress and the Senate, would be the Philippine CDC," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told a Laging Handa briefing.

"Ito po ang mag-i-integrate at saka magpapalakas ng ating mga sistema kapag may mga public emergency," Vergeire added.

[Translation: This will integrate and strengthen our systems during public emergencies.]

It is also seen to help with "future responses in times of pandemic," according to Vergeire.

The country's battle against the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over as officials have confirmed that Delta - described by experts as the most contagious among all variants of concern - has been spreading locally.

The Philippines has detected 17 new Delta variant cases, raising the total to 64 - including 35 local cases.

Healthcare workers have warned the Philippines may not be able to handle Delta's severe impact, similar to what Indonesia is experiencing. 

The government, however, said it has been increasing the capacity of local hospitals as it prepares for a "worst-case scenario."