Groups ask PRRD: Choose Health Secretary with proven competence and integrity

NGOs call on President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure that next health appointee is able to fulfill the promises of the Philippine Health Agenda and accelerate the progress made in the implementation of the Smoke Free Executive Order and programs on mental health, nutrition, HIV/AIDs, and health promotion or preventive approaches in health. 

Public health groups state that the framework and policy set by the former Secretary of Health, a Department of Health veteran, is on the right track. 

Lamenting the Commission on Appointments decision on the Secretary of Health, health advocates continue to raise the banner for health advocacies supported by the former Secretary of Health Paulyn Ubial such as tobacco taxes, tax on sugar sweetened beverages tax, mental health, universal healthcare, and integrity in public health service.

“Secretary Ubial held a very strong position against the tobacco industry, and never compromised. She was faithful to the Civil Service rule that public servants should not meet with the tobacco industry unless necessary for regulation. That’s a true test of integrity,” said Emer Rojas, Founder and President the of New Vois Association of the Philippines. 

“It is typical for Secretaries of Health, who are doctors, to focus on treatment or on medicines. Public health is not just about treatment and medical assistance. 98% of Filipinos are not in the hospital but they deserve health education and healthy lifestyle with the proper guidance from a competent Health Secretary. We hope that former Sec Ubial had set a new standard for all Health Secretaries to be as progressive,” said May Fernandez Mendoza, President of HealthJustice Philippines. 

In September 2016, President Duterte approved the Philippine Health Agenda, a document which outlines the country’s health strategy to efficiently provide universal health care to and promote health for all Filipinos. 

Early this week, Dr. Paulyn Ubial became the fifth cabinet appointee to be rejected by the confirmation on appointments (CA). 

According to a health report submitted to the CA, Ubial’s implementation of the Philippine Health Agenda was responsible for the check up of 20M million poorest Filipinos, reduction by 60% firecracker injury in New Year 2017, providing nearly 2 million poor Filipinos with medical assistance, and serving 14,000 through the Surgical Caravan.

FULL STATEMENT OF HEALTHJUSTICE PHILIPPINES AND NEW VOIS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES:

The Commission on Appointments’ decision on the former Secretary of Health is a big blow to public health; Twenty nine years of experience and loyalty should not go to waste for indeed, the country deserves such a true public health servant and is in dire need of the same We support the framework and policy set in the Philippine Health Agenda approved by the President in September 2016, and we appreciate the progress made by DOH through former Secretary Ubial particularly on Smoke Free implementation, mental health programs, nutrition plan, HIV/AIDs programs, programs to promote integrity in public health service. The DOH must continue its strong support for support for health promotion policies or preventive approaches in health, tobacco taxes, tax on sugar sweetened beverages tax, mental health, universal healthcare, and health promotion Hence, we call on President Duterte to ensure that next health appointee will be qualified to fulfill the promises of the Philippine Health Agenda. He or she must have proven integrity and probity and will have the competence to accelerate the progress made by the former SOH.

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