Duque says his confirmation a shot in the arm for DOH
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday said that his confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (CA) was “like a shot in the arm” for the Department of Health (DOH), which has been plagued by the Dengvaxia controversy.
Duque’s ad interim appointment was confirmed, with senators and the CA health committee describing him as the “right man for the job” of resolving challenges in the DOH.
His confirmation came after two hearings where he was repeatedly questioned over the health department’s dengue immunization program that started in 2016, or before his watch.
Duque halted the program after the Dengvaxia manufacturer, French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, said that the vaccine could cause severe dengue in children who had no previous exposure to the disease.
Malacañang welcomed his confirmation, saying it was confident that Duque would help resolve the country’s pressing health problems, “especially the one on Dengvaxia.”
“That confirmation is proof that he is best suited to be secretary of health,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Duque as health secretary last October after the CA rejected the ad interim appointment of former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.
Duque also served as health secretary for five years under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He acknowledged that his confirmation was a big boost for the DOH.
“I dedicate and share the confirmation to everyone in the DOH. We need something like this, a shot in the arm so to speak, nothing like Dengvaxia of course,” he told reporters.
Duque became emotional during the hearing when Sen. Risa Hontiveros asked him how he planned to boost the morale of DOH personnel.
“It’s a struggle to boost the morale of an ailing organization but as doctors we’re prepared to deal with it..,” he said.
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