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DOH will use telemedicine to make health services more accessible to individuals.

In response to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s call in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday to bring healthcare services closer to the people, the Department of Health intends to launch telemedicine or telehealth services across the nation.

Department of Health Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire stated during the post-SONA economic briefing on Tuesday at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City that the dynamic delivery of healthcare services must gear toward technology and innovations and not just rely on the usual approaches to prepare for future emergencies or pandemics.

“We’re going to expand our telemedicine and telehealth services,” she said, “so that we can continually clear our facilities and also reach those remote sections of the country.”

To give Filipinos better access to top-notch healthcare facilities, primary care and specialty care facilities will be built in various parts of the nation.

Through stronger epidemiology and surveillance departments, the DOH, according to her, strives to base all of its decisions and directives to local government entities on scientific facts and evidence.

That is already included in the budget that we have submitted for the Department of Health to the Department of Budget and Management, according to Vergeire.

Experts in the field are required to generate scientific evidence and make suggestions, she said.

In order to better control emerging and re-emerging diseases, she added, “in support of the President’s orders, we’re going to establish the Philippine Center for Disease Control whereby we’re going to have high level technical capability, recruiting experts, hiring scientists.”

She stated that the DOH wants to set up public health laboratories focusing on various diseases to allow early diagnosis in order to be ready for the threat of emerging and re-emerging diseases like Covid-19.

Vergeire emphasized the importance of self-sufficiency in terms of logistics and commodities, particularly during pandemics.

“Everyone is aware that our vaccines, like the one for COVID-19, were imported. Our local source is not available. Therefore, in accordance with the President’s instructions, we support the Department of Science and Technology’s efforts to establish the Virology Institute of the Philippines, which will allow us to eventually manufacture our technologies locally, such as vaccines for these particular infectious diseases, she said.

If there are insufficient medical personnel to staff and deliver improved healthcare facilities and services, they will be useless.

“There should be a pool of medical personnel that we can easily draw from and that they can easily supplement the different needs for healthcare workers or health human resources across the different facilities of the government and the private sector as well,” she continued. “If there are emergencies or this kind of pandemic of this scale.”

She stated that the DOH emphasizes the significance of a governance system through an inter-agency task group with regard to the planned changes in the health sector.

Vergeire stated that in the event of emergencies or pandemics, the task force must be able to coordinate the first two tiers of the nation’s reaction.

She continued that for the National Risk Reduction and Management Council to effectively implement the task force’s policy directives, it also needs an institutionalized system or organization.

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