Libanan urges Malacañang to appoint permanent DOH chief
MANILA, Philippines — House of Representatives Minority Leader Marcelino “Nonoy” Libanan urged Malacañang to designate a permanent Health Secretary.
Libanan said the secretary should be tasked to quickly modernize the country’s healthcare system and position the country as a global medical hub just like Singapore.
“The Philippines has all the assets needed, including highly trained physicians, nurses, medical technologists and pharmacists, to advance as an international medical center for foreign patients looking for world-class healthcare,” Libanan said in a statement released by the Office of the Press Secretary on Sunday, Dec. 4.
“In fact, Filipino healthcare professionals are also admired around the world as the most caring. We have to capitalize on this,” he added.
Libanan holds a degree in medical technology and also a lawyer by profession.
“We should aspire to be like Singapore, which receives more than 160,000 foreign patients who undergo over 70 kinds of medical treatments or procedures every year,” he said.
Libanan pointed out that a growing number of wealthy Filipinos are already flying to Singapore just to seek medical treatment.
He also said that this is not just about medical tourism but also providing every Filipino, rich or poor, access to world-class medical treatment services through our public health system.
Since assuming office, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has yet to nominate a Secretary of Health.
The Department of Health (DOH) is currently led by Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire as officer-in-charge.
According to Libanan, a permanent DOH chief is needed to lead the country in the race for world-class healthcare.
Libanan called for effective public-private partnerships to put the Philippines at the forefront of medical developments.
“We must also develop complementary medical research and education capacities through international collaborations,” he said.
“If necessary, Congress should provide tax incentives to lure new international medical schools and research facilities to operate here,” he added.
Libanan likewise pushed for a multi-year program to simultaneously modernize the UP-Philippine General Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and the Lung Center of the Philippines, among others.
“The DOH should further develop our specialty hospitals as global centers of excellence in healthcare,” he said.
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