THERE is one relatively obscure government agency performing vital services - only a handful of the populace knows it exists - that sees to it that packaged goods and food supplements we eat, the medicines we take and cosmetics we use are fit for humans.
And the 86 million Filipinos as consumers are assured they are not about to compromise their health and well-being against untested products and medicines with the agency around.
The Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), with the expertise of its researchers, food technologists, medical practitioners and scientists, keeps the Filipino consuming public in the pink of health, in a manner of speaking.
And this important government body squarely guarantees Filipinos that if there is anything that is sold in supermarkets and drugstores for human consumption, BFAD is there to stamp its seal of approval.
In essence, products and medicines taken in by consumers and patients, BFAD is there to oversee that those are safe, their efficacy assured and we, the consuming public, are guaranteed that their therapeutic claims especially have been tested.
BFAD is marking today its 25th year of service to the nation. Its significant contribution to the overall health of Filipinos has always been acknowledged by our national leadership. Its services are tied up with the country's long-term and immediate health programs.
BFAD is a line agency of the Department of Health.
BFAD Director Letty Gutierrez has vowed to continue building on its foundation of success a science-led regulatory agency dedicated to improving and enhancing public health.
"Our activities will be based on new opportunities and the maximizing of resources but grounded in even greater responsibility," Director Gutierrez explains.
With strong consumerism and public vigilance on the proliferation of herbs or plantbased pharmaceutical products, BFAD faces a daunting challenge. It finds itself at the forefront of determining which of the hundreds of crude plant drugs or, herbal products - including grocery items - are fit for human consumption, their safety determined and their efficacy established.
The Philippine Pharmacopeia Project of DoH, implemented by BFAD, hand in hand with various government offices and NGOs, is one achievement. It is the official book of standards and reference to determine the identity, purity and quality of pharmaceutical products and crude plant drugs in the country.
It is with a happy note that the agency has already identified 30 synthetic pharmaceutical products, 31 crude plant drugs and 22 crude powdered drugs. …