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Lawmaker urges Marcos to name permanent DOH chief

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Lawmaker urges Marcos to name permanent DOH chief
“A permanent DOH chief is needed to lead the country in the race for world-class health care,” House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan said, noting that Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire was just designated as “officer-in-charge.”
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MANILA, Philippines — It would be in the best interest of the country if President Marcos appoints a “permanent” Department of Health secretary, especially since the World Health Organization warned of the emergence of new, deadlier variants of the COVID-19 virus, according to a congressman.

“A permanent DOH chief is needed to lead the country in the race for world-class health care,” House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan said, noting that Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire was just designated as “officer-in-charge.”

The leader of the 28-member official opposition bloc in the House of Representatives also observed that it has been nearly six months since Marcos took over the reins of power in June 30, but that he has “not nominated” any health secretary yet.

The DOH portfolio is very important, even as Libanan prefers that national government “quickly modernize the country’s health care system, and position the Philippines as a global medical hub just like Singapore.”

“We should aspire to be like Singapore, which receives more than 160,000 foreign patients who undergo over 70 kinds of medical treatments or procedures every year,” the congressman from party-list 4Ps said.

“In fact, a growing number of wealthy Filipinos are already flying to Singapore just to seek medical treatment,” Libanan pointed out.

The House leader believes the “Philippines has all the assets needed – including highly trained physicians, nurses, medical technologists and pharmacists – to advance as an international medical center for foreign patients looking for world-class health care.”

“In fact, Filipino health care professionals are also admired around the world as the most caring. We have to capitalize on this,” Libanan stressed.

“This is not just about medical tourism. This is also about providing every Filipino, rich or poor, access to world-class medical treatment services through our public health system,” he said.

At the same time, Libanan called for effective public-private partnerships to put the Philippines at the forefront of medical developments.

“We must also develop complimentary medical research and education capacities through international collaborations,” he proposed. “If necessary, Congress should provide tax incentives to lure new international medical schools and research facilities to operate here.”

Libanan likewise pressed for a multi-year program to simultaneously modernize the UP-Philippine General Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and the Lung Center of the Philippines, among others.

DOH

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