GMA not in any immediate danger: DOH chief

By David Dizon,

Posted at Nov 04 2011 10:04 AM | Updated as of Nov 04 2011 10:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is not in any immediate danger despite suffering from hypoparathyroidism, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Friday.

Speaking to radio dzMM, Ona said he met Arroyo last Friday for a "social visit" and found her to be on the road to recovery after 3 major surgeries.

"There is no immediate danger to her life at the present. She is recovering well and alam naman ng lahat na she is diagnosed with hypoparathyroidism and that affects the bone," he told dzMM anchor Ted Failon. 

"Of course, may kahinaan siya. She's lost some weight and as matter of fact, she looks a bit older than her age. Ganun talaga kapag dumaan ka sa matinding operation..."

"(There is no urgency) in the sense that she is recuperating well. Siya ay may ginagamit pa na brace sa likod, leeg hanggang dibdib to stabilize the operation. She is resting well, comfortable. Sa ganyang sitwasyon, her appetite might not be very good but she is on the road to recovery."

Arroyo is asking the Department of Justice to allow her to go abroad to seek treatment for her condition. The former President is barred from leaving the country after she was placed on the immigration watchlist due to an ongoing investigation on electoral fraud in the 2004 and 2007 polls.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has said she will decide on Arroyo's application for allow departure order next week.

In the interview, Ona said he talked to Arroyo's orthopedic surgeon but declined to say what they discussed since it would be treading on doctor-patient privilege.

He said Arroyo mentioned in passing her need to consult different specialists abroad that are doing research on hypoparathyroidism. She did not say which hospitals and doctors she will be consulting, he said.

He also confirmed that removing bone from a patient is routinely being done in the Philippines but noted that he does not know what type of tests needs to be done. "Araw araw ginagawa yun sa Pilipinas. The removal of the bone is easy but there are different types of examination. It depends on the type of examination," he said.

The health secretary reiterated that the former President underwent a serious operation that became more complicated because of her weakened bone structure. He said Arroyo's doctors confirmed that the former President's condition is rare.