Marcos tells DOH to also address HIV, tuberculosis

Marcos tells DOH to also address HIV, tuberculosis
A volunteer medical technologist tests blood sample from students who volunteered for a free HIV testing program, at the State University in Manila on September 13, 2019.
AFP / Maria Tan

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday tasked the Department of Health to also focus on campaigns against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis infections.

In a meeting with DOH officials, Marcos said the government should also pay attention to general public health matters. The president has yet to name a health secretary, saying that there is more to the health department portfolio than COVID-19 pandemic.

"Of course, COVID has not gone away. [We] still have to deal with it, but let’s not deal with COVID… at the expense of all these public health concerns," Marcos said.

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department had gained headway in those campaigns prior to COVID-19 pandemic but it encountered hurdles during the health crisis because of movement restrictions.

"People were not able to go for screening, were not able to get their medicines because of the lockdowns," she told Marcos. She said medicines were being sent to patients through couriers.

Vergeire added that the DOH is working with other agencies and sectors to make services accessible.

The DOH has tallied 12,859 HIV cases from January to October 2022.

According to Vergeire, tuberculosis has reemerged because of its high transmissibility, and the disease usually affects people from the lower-income bracket.

The health official said the government’s anti-tuberculosis drive “has become more innovative and is now going around the country” to launch the primary care program that includes TB-DOTS.

The Philippines has recorded over 26,000 tuberculosis cases as of September.

In a briefing, Vergeire said the DOH is moving toward attaining the objectives of Universal Health Care.

"If we do primary care in every place in the country, this includes tuberculosis and HIV prevention and adequate management of those who are sick," she said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico




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