New health chief’s been at it so long
WITH HER 28 years of service at the Department of Health, incoming Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial is confident her longevity at DOH would be a distinct advantage.
“I think my strength is that I have worked with 13 health secretaries starting from Dr. Alfredo Bengzon to Secretary Janette Garin. I will build on their best practices as well as the good things they have done so we can enhance the health sector,” the 53-year-old Ubial, who rose through the ranks, told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
She said President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s marching orders are for the DOH to provide quality health services to the 20 million “poorest of the poor” Filipinos.
“That’s one of the biggest challenges the health sector is facing—access to quality health services and inequities. Those in the upper quintile already have access, but those in the lower quintile, the disparity is really wide in terms of quality health services,” she said.
One of the ways she intends to ensure that poor Filipinos are reached and provided with quality health services is the mandatory annual checkup and the designation of “patient navigators” who can either be hired for the job or be volunteers with honoraria.
Ubial said she plans to replicate the program, which was first implemented in Davao del Norte and Compostela, in other parts of the country.
A native of M’lang, North Cotabato, Ubial, who is currently the assistant health secretary for health regulations, also vowed to improve state hospital facilities.
Another priority of Ubial is to refile the bill vetoed by President Aquino raising the salaries of nurses.
“We intend to refile the bill and hopefully Congress and Senate will support because we believe that health workers should be given due compensation,” Ubial told Inquirer in a phone interview.
Ubial started her career in public health in 1988.
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