MANILA – Health experts on Tuesday lauded the appointment of Dr. Teodoro Herbosa as the first secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
The president of the Philippine College of Physicians, Dr. Rontgene Solante said Herbosa’s experience in public health emergency makes him the right choice for the position.
He noted, however, that there are some issues Herbosa needs to address.
“He needs to lay down important direction on how we approach COVID-19 now that the (World Health Organization) has lifted the public health emergency, particularly on the aspect of vaccination. Ano ba maging plano ng Department of Health sa vaccination program?” Solante said.
“Pangalawa, affected din yung ibang bakuna…yung mababa ang vaccination rate like measles, tetanus, diptheria,” he added.
“I think this is a big government…program that will really serve the poor,” he explained.
Dr. Jose de Grano of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPI) meanwhile, hopes Herbosa will be open to their concerns, like regulatory pain points and staffing problems.
“We hope that as the new Secretary of Health, he will be open to the private hospitals on the present problems that we are encountering, especially with licensing procedures, new administrative orders, regulatory pain points that hospitals—especially private hospitals—are experiencing, staffing problems, and many more,” he said in a statement.
PHAPI is one of the organizations that recommended Herbosa for the post of Health Secretary.
But a group of health workers is dismayed at Herbosa’s appointment.
In a statement, the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) said that, as Health undersecretary from 2010 to 2015, Herbosa was the cluster head of National Capital Region and Southern Luzon Public-Private Partnership Projects.
Health workers said among Herbosa’s actions during that time were the attempted privatization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center and the attempted abolition of Fabella Hospital.
Herbosa was also the chair of DOH Central Office’s Bids and Awards Committee, they noted.
“Due to tireless and persistent collective actions of health workers, patients and the entire Filipino the sale and the privatization of Philippine Orthopedic Center and the abolition of Fabella Hospital and the rest of the public hospitals failed,” the group’s president Robert Mendoza said.
The group said the privatization of public hospitals and other public health services will result in higher income for hospital owners, while health workers may still be subjected to inhumane working conditions.
The group also noted that Herbosa was appointed by Duterte administration as an adviser of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
“We health workers and the entire nation witnessed the inefficiency, criminal negligent and failure of government’s COVID-19 response,” the group said.
“We do not want a DOH Secretary who is an ardent red-tagger of health workers who are only promoting and struggling for their much-deserved COVID-19 benefits, protection and welfare especially during the surge of pandemic,” Mendoza said.
The group said Marcos’ appointment of Herbosa “is a clear manifestation of the President’s extreme lack of concern for the lives, health, and welfare of the health workers and the people.”
“Herbosa’s appointment is a big insult to health workers and indigent patients who rely on free and quality health services in public hospitals and other health facilities,” they said.
--TeleRadyo, 6 June 2023