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Marcos vows to fix flaws in pandemic response

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Marcos vows to fix flaws in pandemic response
New Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (C) waves to supporters as his sons look on after being sworn in as the country's new leader, during the inauguration ceremony at the National Museum in Manila on June 30, 2022.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines (Updated, 3:34 p.m.) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vowed Thursday that he will fix the shortcomings in the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as he begins his term as the country’s 17th chief executive.

Marcos will face the mammoth tasks of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic and bouncing back from its devastating effects as he succeeds former President Rodrigo Duterte. 

“There were shortcomings in the COVID response. We will fix them out in the open. No more secrets in public health,” Marcos said in his inaugural speech delivered at the National Museum in Manila. How he plans to do that remains unclear. 

Marcos has yet to appoint a health secretary. In a message to reporters Thursday, the Department of Health said it is awaiting further advice and instructions from the Office of the Executive Secretary on who would be the agency's officer-in-charge.

'Not unprepared, understaffed'

The president promised that the Philippines will not be “caught unprepared, under-equipped, and understaffed” to fight the next pandemic. 

Marcos inherits a public health crisis that has so far left over three million people infected and at least 60,000 killed since 2020.

The Philippines is once again seeing an increase in cases, driven by the presence of fast-spreading variants with immune escape characteristics, increased mobility, and waning vaccine immunity.

The COVID-19 pandemic also exposed and widened cracks in the country’s healthcare system including barriers to accessing healthcare services such as affordable testing and treatment, and the grim situation of medical workers who are overworked but underpaid.

“Our nurses are the best in the world… They are out there because we cannot pay them for the same risk and workload that we have back here,” Marcos said.

“There will be changes starting tomorrow. I am confident because I have an [Toots] Ople in my Cabinet,” he added.

 

COVID-19 PANDEMIC

FERDINAND MARCOS JR.

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