Senators: DOH chief needed ASAP as monkeypox enters PH | Inquirer News

Senators: DOH chief needed ASAP as monkeypox enters PH

/ 05:23 PM July 29, 2022

Senators on Friday have highlighted the need of appointing a Department of Health (DOH) secretary and the creation of a task force similar to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as the country reported its first case of the monkeypox virus. 

This handout photo taken in the year 2001 and received on May 23, 2022 from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention, shows a colored electron-microscopic capture of the monkeypox virus. – As of May 21, 2022 the World Health Organization received reports of 92 laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases and 28 suspected cases from 12 countries where the disease is not endemic, including several European nations, the United States, Australia and Canada. (Photo by Andrea MAENNEL and Andrea SCHNARTENDORFF / RKI Robert Koch Institute / AFP) /

MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Friday highlighted the need to appoint a Department of Health (DOH) secretary and the creation of a task force similar to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as the country reported its first case of the monkeypox virus.

The first monkeypox case is a 31-year-old Filipino national who arrived from abroad on July 19, with DOH identifying 10 close contacts.


Senate minority leader Koko Pimentel said the appointment of the health chief is “urgent,” but the DOH officials should now act on combating the virus.


“Yes, the appointment of the DOH secretary is urgent,” Pimentel told reporters in a text message when asked about the matter in light of the monkeypox situation.

“But current people composing the DOH and other health-related agencies should start planning how to combat monkeypox,” Pimentel added.

Senator JV Ejercito also said while it would be much better if President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. could now appoint a DOH secretary, he is optimistic that officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire could do the work.

“With regard to the appointment of the DOH secretary, mas maganda kung makapag-appoint na si Pangulo para matutukan talaga ang problemang ito, subalit tiwala naman tayo kay acting Sec. Vergeire na gagamitin niya ang karanasan at kaalaman niya noong pumutok ang COVID-19,” Ejercito said in a statement.

(About the appointment of the DOH secretary, it is better if the President could appoint one so we could focus on this problem, but we trust that acting Secretary Vergeire could use her knowledge and experience when COVID-19 broke out.)

Ejercito is also urging Marcos to create an IATF-like agency for the monkeypox situation.


“I am urging PBBM to create a task force similar to the IATF, so our response is coordinated,” he said. “This should involve officials from health, quarantine, immigration, and other related agencies.”

Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed optimism that the DOH could act on the monkeypox situation despite not having a secretary this time, urging the agency to bolster its capability to screen suspected monkeypox cases.

“Kahit na wala pang naitalagang health secretary, dapat ay patuloy na palakasin at pagtibayin ang kakayahan ng ating health system na magbantay at mag-screen ng mga suspected cases ng monkeypox,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

(Even if there has yet to be a health secretary, we should improve and bolster the capability of our health system to watch out and screen suspected monkeypox cases.)

“Gayunpaman, kumpiyansa pa rin tayo sa kasalukuyang DOH team na mayroon silang kakayanang tumugon sa monkeypox bilang public health emergency of international concern, Hontiveros added.

(Nevertheless, we still trust the DOH team that they can act on the monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern.)

Senator Bong Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demographics, said he intends to file a resolution to ask DOH and other officials concerned to identify specific strategies and measures to ensure the capability of the country’s healthcare system.

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“We have learned a lot from the COVID-19 pandemic, and we hope that guided by good science, we know better how to handle monkeypox this time,” Go said in a statement.

TAGS: DoH, Health, monkeypox, secretary

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