Press Release | October 25, 2022

The Philippine Department of Health (DOH), through the leadership of Officer-in-Charge Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire, opened the 73rd Session of the World Health Organization’s Regional Committee for the Western Pacific by presenting the Philippines’ forward-looking plans to strengthen health security in the country and in the region.

With the vision “For the Future: Towards the Healthiest and Safest Region”, the committee has identified health security as one of its four thematic priorities which enabled the region to launch a rapid and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The same priority is aligned with the DOH’s strategic thrusts of enabling the people to be healthy, protecting the people from health risks, caring for the people’s health and wellness, and strengthening health institutions and workforce as identified under the new Health Sector Strategy for 2023-2028.

In the speech of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyessus, he emphasized the importance of moving away from current, curative and disease-centric approaches in delivering health services towards building preventive and health promotive health systems.

“We are calling on all Member States to make an urgent paradigm shift towards promoting health and well-being and preventing disease, by addressing its root causes and creating the conditions for health to thrive — I give you my commitment that your WHO will continue to support you, through our country and regional offices, and at headquarters, to promote, provide, protect, power and perform for health,” said the WHO Director-General.

Towards this end, the OIC-Secretary highlighted how the country is implementing measures towards the shared vision of Health Security, particularly through the establishment of a reliable primary care system, creation of the Philippine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP), and cultivation of an adequate and competent healthcare workforce. Moreover, the OIC emphasized how other key initiatives are all showing significant progress in the Philippines’ health sector and contributing towards national health security, these include addressing antimicrobial resistance, non-communicable diseases, and mental health; creating climate change resilient and environmentally-friendly sustainable health care facilities; initiating Health Futures Strategic Dialogues; and institutionalizing indicator frameworks for Universal Health (UHC) performance monitoring.

“The WHO has long been the Philippines’ partner in addressing the country’s healthcare challenges. Through your assistance, we have successfully developed the National Action Plan for Health Security and strengthened border surveillance and control at all ports of entry. Together, we likewise established the inter-agency committee for AMR, and increased capacities on coordination for crisis management during food safety emergencies,” said DOH Officer-in-Charge Secretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire.

“As we continue to support global health security initiatives, we also commit to further strengthen  multi sectoral coordination, financing, cold-chain infrastructure, as well as logistics and supply-chain systems. All these will be critical in strengthening our health institutions and workforce, allowing us to create healthy communities, protect every Juan and Juana from health risks, and enable them to practice healthy behaviors and make healthy choices— ,” added Health OIC Singh-Vergeire.


Note: The Regional Committee for the Western Pacific is the WHO’s governing body for the region composed of representatives–health ministers and senior officials–from 37 member states and associate members. The Regional Committee meets every year to formulate policies, provide oversight for regional programmes, hear progress reports, and consider, revise and endorse new initiatives. It adopts resolutions and makes decisions that guide the work of the Regional Office and country offices for the coming year. The annual meeting serves as a platform where discussions on priority public health issues–such as COVID-19 and primary care reforms, among others–are led by high level officials from member countries. The 73rd session of the WHO Western Pacific Regional Committee began on Monday, October 24, 2022, and is set to run until Friday, October 28, 2022.