THE cancer support group New Vois Association of the Philippines supported the appointment of career health department official Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial as the next Health secretary even as outgoing Health Secretary Janette Garin highlighted her accomplishments in the agency.
“We are confident that with Secretary Ubial as DoH secretary, public health, specially tobacco control, will take on a new level,” said NVAP president Emer Rojas, also a global cancer ambassador for the American Cancer Society.
“Her job as Health secretary is a tall order but with her huge experience in public health and dedication to her job we are confident that she can carry on the mandate as DoH chief,” he said.
Rojas said NVAP and other health advocates are familiar with Ubial’s commitment to public health since they have worked with her in pushing for tobacco control legislations like the sin tax and the graphic health warning despite a very strong tobacco lobby.
Meanwhile, Garin prepared to turn over the leadership of the agency to Ubial as she highlighted her accomplishments.
Garin, who took over from Dr. Enrique Ona, introduced programs that were designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency, particularly in the financing of health care, service delivery, regulatory functions, infrastructure and procurement and logistics management which.
At the same time, she initiated partnerships that complemented the work of DoH and was able to accomplish what others can only hope to accomplish over a full six years in office.
But despite her achievements, she was no stranger to controversies. During her remaining months at the department, Garin again became a target of a smear campaign from others who were angling to replace her as DoH chief.
Among these issues were the persistent concerns that DoH, under her leadership, is closing down the 65-year old Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, a maternal and newborn tertiary facility located in Sata Cruz, Manila.
She vehemently denied the accusations, repeatedly reiterating that the hospital will not be closed, no employees will be terminated and it is not part of any Public-Private Partnership project.
She added that the hospital will instead be modernized, but the services will remain affordable to poor families who need quality healthcare interventions.
Ubial also clarified in a recent interview that there is no truth to the closure and demolition of Fabella Hospital.
Garin’s transition team is busy wrapping up everything at DoH and will soon turn over existing programs to Ubial, who she said deserves the post, having served 13 health secretaries before.
Ubial, 53, is from Mlang, North Cotabato and the second native of the province to become a Cabinet member in the Duterte administration after former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Pinol was appointed as agriculture chief.
Her career in public health began 26 years ago, when she started as rural health practice volunteer in Kidapawan, North Cotabato in 1998.