PBBM, WHO chief tackle health issues, post-pandemic priorities

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

October 25, 2022, 9:58 pm

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos and World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus discussed Tuesday several issues surrounding the health sector and the Philippine government's post-pandemic priorities.

The meeting between Marcos and Ghebreyesus was held at Malacañan Palace's Study Room, Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS), said in a press statement.

"President Ferdinand R. Marcos on Tuesday received Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), where they tackled issues hounding the health sector and the country’s development priorities post-pandemic," Garafil said.

"During their meeting, Marcos emphasized the necessity of finding a balance between the economy and people's safety during the meeting, citing the effectiveness of the government's Covid-19 vaccine campaign," she added.

Marcos, Garafil said, also called for a "renewed focus on general public health concerns as cases of other diseases increase."

In a separate Facebook post, the Office of the President (OP) said Marcos congratulated Ghebreyesus on his reelection as WHO chief and expressed gratitude for assistance the world body's assistance to developing nations "during the most difficult phases of the pandemic."

Joining Ghebreyesus during his courtesy call on Marcos were WHO Chef de Cabinet Dr. Catharina Boehme and Director of Programme Management Dr. Corinne Capuano of WHO Western Pacific Regional Office.

Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Secretary Antonio Lagdameo Jr. and Department of Health (DOH) Officer-In-Charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire were also present when Ghebreyesus paid a visit to Marcos.

Ghebreyesus is in the Philippines to participate in the 73rd World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Committee Meeting (WPRCM) being held in Manila from Oct. 24 to 28.

In September, Ghebreyesus stressed that while the end of Covid-19 pandemic is "in sight," there is still the risk of "more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty."

Marcos, on the other hand, said he will not lift the state of calamity, despite his administration's move not to treat the Covid-19 pandemic “as an emergency."

To revitalize the Philippine economy, the Marcos administration sought the further easing of travel restrictions in the country.

In a Palace press briefing, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said Marcos will issue an executive order making the wearing of face masks voluntary in indoor settings, except in public transportation, medical transportation and medical facilities.

Frasco said Marcos also agreed to remove reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing as a pre-departure requirement and allow travelers to get their eArrival card upon their arrival in the country. (PNA)