Next Health Secretary should be 'practicing': doctors' group

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2022 02:33 PM

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MANILA – The next Health Secretary under presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s administration should be someone who is “practicing,” a doctor’s group said Wednesday.

“Well I think we need somebody who really knows, who really has the knowledge when it comes to healthcare, so he has to be practicing,” Philippine College of Physicians president Dr. Maricar Limpin told ANC’s “Rundown.”

“Because you know, having a head of the health department who does not really have a feel of what is happening on the ground, then we will really have problems when we do encounter health crisis like this,” she added.

Limpin also said the country’s next health chief should have a strong public health background.

“Also, he or she should also know something about health promotion. You know health promotion has been left on the background and because we are so poor or are so weak on health promotion, we see a lot of health problems arising.”

“And we cannot also do anything about you know, one of the highest cause of mortality in the country which is non-communicable diseases,” she stressed.

The doctor said she hopes the next administration will be able to end the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to put an end to this pandemic, so maybe really have the realization of...looking at this as something similar to flu,” she said. “But we need to put into place certain interventions or certain measures to strengthen the healthcare system.”

Limpin said the government must address the exodus of nurses from the country and ensure the proper implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law.

“Because this is already long overdue, our people [need] to get what they deserve.”

Marcos Jr. has yet to name his preferred Health secretary. Presumptive vice president Sara Duterte-Carpio has agreed to lead the Department of Education, while Marcos Jr.'s campaign manager Benhur Abalos will lead the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Marcos' camp has also offered Cabinet posts to former labor secretary Bienvenido Laguesma and overseas Filipino worker advocate Susan "Toots" Ople.

On BA.2.12.1

Limpin said it is only a matter of time before more COVID-19 cases are recorded in the country now that the Health department has confirmed the local transmission of omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1.

“Since the variant has already entered the country then it’s just a matter of time, we will be able to see already the increase in cases. But unfortunately, in the country, as you said, the testing is really not that good anymore.”

“Not all people are being tested, primarily no. 1 because some of these people who are developing disease do not want to be tested because of financial reasons, and then the others might actually not be going to any physicians, and therefore we will never know if they get COVID-19 or not,” she said.

She said government must now focus on giving COVID-19 jabs in areas with a low vaccination rate.

“I think we need to focus our attention on the areas where there is low vaccination rate, particularly the primary vaccination rate, because I do believe that based from experiences in other countries, we expect that those who are unvaccinated would probably get the disease.”

“And they are more likely to get the variant and actually in these individuals, this is also where the possibility of mutations can occur,” she added.

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante also encouraged the fully vaccinated to get their booster shots to help stop the transmission of COVID-19. 

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“Yung hindi pa natatanggap yung first booster, sana you consider getting your first booster. Para mas mataas ang proteksyon natin at hindi tayo nagkakahawaan ano.”

“At pangalawa, kailangan pa rin natin magsuot ng mask, especially sa mga high risk areas na walang masyadong ventilation o yung maraming tao, importante pa rin ang facemask at paghugas ng kamay.”