NEW DOH CHIEF. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. administers the oath of office of Teodoro Herbosa as secretary of the Department of Health on Tuesday. Herbosa said his administration would focus on the exit plan of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and strategies to improve the situation of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB) cases in the country. (PNA photo)

MANILA – Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said Thursday his administration would focus on the exit plan of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and strategies to improve the situation of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB) cases in the country.

In a televised press briefing, Herbosa said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has instructed him to tackle the rising HIV cases among the youth and the prevalence of TB nationwide after the World Health Organization ranked the Philippines as ninth among countries in the world with the highest number of TB cases.

“Nag-create na ako ng ating mga action officers para matutukan 'yung mga problemang TB, HIV, at ‘yung Covid (I have created action officers to concentrate on the problems about TB, HIV, and Covid),” he said.

Herbosa noted that the Department of Health is a big organization that “must be made efficient” through the digitalization of certain processes to better serve the public’s health care needs.

“Plano kong maging digital ang kagawaran para ‘yung financing and procurement, ‘yung delivery ng services ay magagawa sa pamamagitan ng telemedicine ng digital health at digital methodology. That way, magiging more efficient at ‘yung pera na inilalaan ng ating bayan para sa kalusugan, mapunta talaga sa mga kababayan na nangangailangan (I plan to digitalize the department so that financing and procurement, the delivery of services could be done through telemedicine, digital health, and digital methodology. That way, it would be more efficient and the budget for health would be used for those who are really in need),” he said.

On the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law, Herbosa assured the public that the DOH would ensure members of the marginalized sector would get free and quality services in public hospitals and health centers.

He added that the DOH would also support the Lab for All of First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos.

“Magandang proyekto ‘yun kase nga karamihan ng maysakit ngayon ‘yung tinatawag natin na non-communicable diseases at para matutukan kelangan may laboratory test. Minsan di rin abot-kaya ito ng ating mga kababayan (This is a good project because most of the diseases today are what we call non-communicable diseases, which require laboratory tests. Sometimes, our fellowmen cannot afford them),” he said.

The Lab for All caravan project provides free consultation, laboratory tests, and medicines.

Herbosa officially assumed his post as the new health chief on Tuesday. He served as adviser of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 from 2020 to 2021 under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte.

He also served as DOH undersecretary from 2010 to 2015 under the administration of Benigno Aquino III and as executive vice president of the University of the Philippines System from 2017 to 2021.

Full support

Meanwhile, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines - Episcopal Commission on Health Care (CBCP-ECHC) executive secretary Fr. Dan Cancino has expressed their support for Herbosa.

"The CBCP-ECHC shares a commitment with you to improve the health and well-being of the most vulnerable and marginalized,” Cancino said in an interview over the church-run Radio Veritas.

“We will journey beside you and all those working in the attempt to bring health to all, especially the many people, including children, who live on the periphery of society, and who suffer ill health and hunger."

He said he believes that having good health is the right of every citizen, and not just a few.

On Tuesday, CBCP-ECHC vice chairman Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio congratulated Herbosa on his appointment, expressing hope that health issues that are important for the well-being of every citizen would be given attention. (with Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)