The national government is concerned about the “increased number of food and water-borne diseases in El Nido,” and will form a task team to address the problem.

Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire, who was visiting Puerto Princesa on Wednesday, said Department of the Interior and Local Government Sec. Benjamin Abalos will be creating a task force to sort out the matter.

She explained that she recently met with El Nido municipal government officials to deal with food safety concerns as well as the town’s ongoing struggle with water-borne infections.

“Based from recent observations and reports, we’re having [an] increased number of food and water borne diseases in El Nido, and this is a tourist area so the national government is quite concerned,” Vergeire said.

FROM LEFT: DOH MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Mario Baquilod, Development Team Asec. Dr. Gloria Balboa, DOH officer-in-charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire, and Palawan Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates. | Photo from Palawan PIO

“So, si (DILG) Secretary [Benjamin] Abalos ay nagsabi sa amin na he will be creating a task force so that we can be able to address. Magpapauna ang DOH ng sanitary engineers para makita natin ang problema,” she added.

Vergeire is in Puerto Princesa on April 19 following the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to ensure that health facilities will be able to deliver quality services. She met with provincial government officials to discuss the current situation of the delivery of health services in Palawan.

The health department OIC was accompanied by DOH Health Policy and Infrastructure Development Team Asec. Dr. Gloria Balboa and DOH MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Mario Baquilod. They were met by Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates, Provincial Administrator Atty. Jay Bolusa, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Faye Erika Labrador and Cesar Say Magbanua, chief of staff of the office of the Provincial Governor.

“For the current administration, gusto naming tutukan ang mga isolated areas natin na medyo hindi pa maganda ang network to access to facilities, so this is one of our priority areas. We’re here to look up to isolated areas so that we can see the facilities, paano mabibigyan ng tugon para magkaroon tayo ng access sa mga facilities sa Palawan,” Vergeire stated.

Furthermore, she said the health department will also focus on the malaria cases, anti-COVID vaccine rollout and healthcare waste management system.

The health official also said DOH will continue to extend support to the provincial government in addressing primary health concerns of the provincial government.

Meanwhile, Socrates expressed gratitude to the health officials for including Palawan among the priority areas of concern.

The governor said delivery of health care services has been among the priority programs of the provincial government, anchored on the establishment 16 hospitals in different municipalities of the province, and the medical scholarship program.

“We are very happy na bumisita kayo sa amin. Maraming salamat sa inyong malasakit sa aming kababayan at sa Palawan,” Socrates said.