Senator Toletntino urges creation of Office of Surgeon General

Amid the sudden spike and outbreak of diseases in the country, Senator Francis Tolentino on Thursday said he has filed a bill seeking the creation of the Office of the Surgeon General to handle all communications relating to public health in the Philippines.

Tolentino said the gravity of the country’s health challenges last year — which included a dengue outbreak, measles outbreak, and resurgence of the deadly poliovirus along with the recent novel coronavirus scare, necessitates the need for a proactive government body which focuses on a reliable communication system for disease prevention and control.

“It is not only the government’s foremost duty to create a policy framework to safeguard its citizens from disease, but also to provide vital and timely information necessary for health awareness,” Tolentino said in a statement.

“The Office of the Surgeon General will serve as the national spokesperson on all matters relating to public health, especially on critical health issues,” he added.

Under Senate Bill No. 1288 which Tolentino filed Wednesday, the Office of the Surgeon General will be an attached agency of the Department of Health (DOH), which shall regularly publish health bulletins and reports on critical public health issues and on the health and fitness of the general public.

Information on health hazards in times of emergencies, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and any other exigency shall also be coursed through the Surgeon General.

To further ensure better delivery of public-health related information to the people, the measure also seeks to create a public health network that will serve as a forum to discuss critical public health issues, share relevant health information and to monitor and regulate public health concerns.

The public health network, which shall also be led by the Surgeon General, shall consist of DOH’s attached agencies, such as the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, health practitioners in the private sector and the medical academe and other national government agencies.

The proposed office will be similar to the Office of the Surgeon General of the US, which is America’s leading spokesperson on public health but shall be different from the Office of the Surgeon General in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. PNA.GOV.PH