Like Dr. A.H. Cruz and Dr. C.S. Gatmaitan, Dr. Jesus C. Azurin rose from the ranks. He joined DOH as Quarantine Officer in 1947. He became Director of Quarantine from 1955 – 1974. As Director of Quarantine, he headed the Philippine research team that conducted one of the few prospective studies in cholera that clarified key questions about the transmission. He initiated on-board health education of passengers in domestic vessels. Under his leadership, the Bureau of Quarantine received government recognition as a model of good management. He became Undersecretary of Health in December 1974.
As minister of Health, he launched the nationwide implementation of the Primary Health Care (PHC) approach in September 1961, and received the first WHO Sasakawa Health Prize for PHC. PHC opened the health care delivery system to Barangay Health Workers and community health volunteers stimulating interaction between health center staff and the community served.
By virtue of EO 851, he tried to reverse more than 30 years of history by merging the prevention and curative services of the health care delivery system through the creation of the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO). In April 1982, theResearch Institute for Tropical Medicine was established and in December 1982, the first herbal processing plant was constructed in the Davao Regional Health Office. During Minister Azurin’s term, POP II project started to fund PHC activities such as training of Barangay Health Workers and establishment of Botika sa Barangay. POP II also funded 3 herbal processing plants. The DOH also started to produce oral rehydration salt (ORS) sachets during this time. Minister Azurin’s involvement in cholera research made him an active mover in the Control of Diarrheal Diseases. Minister Azurin’s administration is also remembered for the installation of single side bond in the different DOH offices in the country.
Martial law years meant media and communication black out. Health statistics and performance records during Minister Azurin’s term were with much doubt. Performance reports, that used arbitrary “service” targets, did not reflect baseline levels and thus distorted the perception of the health situation and actual program coverage during his term. Cholera ceased to be officially reported to WHO apparently due to pressure from banana exporters.