MANILA – The Commission on Appointments (CA) heard on Tuesday the plans of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Teodoro Herbosa on how to improve the country's health sector.
During the deliberation of his ad interim appointment presided over by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, Herbosa shared his eight-point Action Agenda with the slogan, "Sa Healthy Pilipinas, Bawat Buhay Mahalaga (In a healthy Philippines, every life matters)."
"It is not a slogan but a pledge and an assertion that health is a fundamental right of every individual, not a privilege of some. It is a pledge to make universal health care with primary health care at its core, not just an abstract concept about a tangible reality performed and executed by every stakeholder and every health care worker and experienced by every Filipino in our health promotive settings in our primary care centers, in our clinics, and our hospital," he told the CA Committee on Health.
Herbosa said the Action Agenda intends to capture the aspirations of every Filipino with the inspiration from the Universal Healthcare Act and aligned with the Philippine Development Plan of 2023-2028.
The agenda are Bawat Pilipino ramdam ang kalusugan (every Filipino should feel healthy); Ligtas, kalidad, at mapagkalingang serbisyo (safe, quality, and compassionate service); Teknolohiya para sa mabilis na serbisyo (technology for prompt services); Handa sa krisis (crisis-ready); Pag-iwas sa sakit (disease prevention); Ginhawa sa isip at damdamin (mental and emotional comfort); Kapakanan at karapatan ng (welfare and rights of) health workers; and Proteksyon sa anumang pandemya (protection against any pandemic).
"Among all these in my tenure, I will prioritize three actions in primary health care: ending tuberculosis in the Philippines; reaching yearly 95 percent fully immunized child nationwide; and decreasing malnutrition by as much as 50 percent," he said.
Herbosa, who served as a special adviser to the National Task Force Against Covid-19, pledged to prioritize the welfare of health workers, recalling that he also experienced losing colleagues and friends who were at the front lines at the height of the pandemic.
"Naiintindihan ko po ang paghihirap ng mga health worker dahil isa po ako sa kanilang hanay, nanilbihan at nag-alaga ng mga pasyente sa Philippine General Hospital. Aalagaan ko po sila at sisiguraduhin nating mabibigay ang kalinga. Ang kailangan po ay sapat na panahon, tiwala, at matupad ang mga tungkuling iyon (I understand the struggle of our health workers because I was one of those who served and cared for patients in the Philippine General Hospital. I will care for them and ensure that they will be given attention. What we need is time, trust, and to fulfill those duties)," he said.
The CA panel suspended the deliberation for a lunch break and resumed at 2:17 p.m., only to suspend again the deliberation on Herbosa's ad interim appointment.
"The members of Congress have to be back in Congress by 3 p.m. and we understand that the members of the Senate have to be on time for their 3 p.m. session. Mr. Chair, I move that for the lack of material time, we suspend the deliberation of the ad interim appointment of Mr. Teodoro Javier Herbosa as Secretary of Department of Health," CA Majority Leader, Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. LRay Villafuerte said. This was seconded by the CA members without any objection.
Go, who entertained questions from Senate reporters after the deliberation, said no one opposed Herbosa's nomination but lawmakers had a lot of questions for him.
"Isang kongresista pa lang kanina, it took them one hour at marami pa pong hindi nakapagtanong (One congressman alone took one hour and many others were not yet able to ask their questions)," he said.
The CA panel, Go said, would not be able to resume Herbosa's appointment deliberation on Wednesday, the last day of the regular session, due to the budget deliberations both in the Senate and the House of Representatives. (PNA)