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New DOH, DA heads awaited

DOH: 398 dengue cases recorded in Bicol from January to May 21

Department of Health Philippines | INQUIRER.net file photo

Health-care workers urged President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to name a health secretary with a clean track record while a lawmaker said the incoming administration’s choice of the next agriculture secretary would be crucial due to a possible nationwide nutrition crisis.

“We prefer a health chief who has an excellent track record on good governance, accountability and integrity, and one who will wholeheartedly serve the people,” Alliance of Health Workers president Robert Mendoza said in a statement.

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Marcos has less than three weeks left to decide who to appoint to the Department of Health (DOH), the lead agency in the government’s pandemic response.

Without naming incumbent Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Mendoza took a swipe at the current DOH leadership for its alleged involvement in anomalous transactions over the procurement of COVID-19 supplies and dismal pandemic response.

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“We strongly reject a DOH chief who has records of being involved in anomalous transactions like the Pharmally deal and … gross negligence in the disposition of medicines and medical supplies as many of these were only stored in DOH warehouses and eventually expired and wasted amid many patients [who] are deprived of … free medicines, supplies and medical health services,” he said.

“We will never forget that during the earliest surge of the pandemic, many died, including our fellow health workers, due to negligence and [the] incompetence of [the] DOH and [the] Duterte administration,” he added.

Nutrition crisis

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda warned of a possible nutrition crisis in the country, making the next Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary a vital member the economic team.

In a statement on Thursday, he said the Philippines could face a nutrition crisis, citing the results of the April 19 to April 27 Social Weather Station survey in which 12.2 percent of respondents said their families experienced being hungry in the past three months. The figure was 0.4 point above the 11.8 percent or estimated 3 million families in the December 2021 survey.

“I fear that if we don’t find a way to get cheap food, accessible sources of nutrition among the poor and children, we will see a nutrition crisis that could affect long-term growth prospects,” Salceda said.

He stressed that the next DA chief would be “essential,” adding: “I think, given our current context, he or she will be the most important part of the country’s economic team.”

Citing a Food and Agriculture Organization study, Salceda said an augmentation by 500 kilocalories per day could cause as much as a 2-percentage-point increase in real gross domestic product per capita. He pointed out that the mean daily energy intake of working adults should be 1,768 kcal, according to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

READ: Bongbong Marcos names 5 more members of his Cabinet

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TAGS: Agriculture Secretary, Alliance of Health Workers, DoH, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., Health Secretary
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