Eric Tayag gets new DOH post

MANILA, Philippines – Former Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson Enrique "Eric" Tayag was recently re-assigned to the health department’s Bureau of Local Health Development (BLHD) after years of serving as director of the National Epidemiology Center (NEC).

"Basically, the reason na nasa BLHD siya is to give him more of a leeway, kasi nakita natin na dun siya mas ano eh, mas gusto niyang nasa regional offices siya," Health Secretary Janette Garin told Rappler in an ambush interview. 

(Basically, the reason he's in BLHD is to give him more of a leeway, because we see he prefers being in regional offices.)

As director of BLHD, Tayag is in charge of strengthening regional capacities to support and assist local health systems. He will also advise the secretary on matters related to local health coordination and local health systems development.

This is not the first time "personnel movements" happened under Garin since she took over DOH.

She met criticism in November 2014 when, barely a month as acting health secretary, she reshuffled key officials in the department – including Tayag, who then lost his "assistant secretary of health designate" title and went back to NEC.

Prior to this, Tayag was investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation for his alleged involvement in a 2012 DOH vaccine procurement which some groups tagged as anomalous.

Because of the probe, then Health Secretary Enrique Ona went on leave and eventually resigned, but initial reports from the NBI showed there were no irregularities in the purchase.

Tayag’s move to BLHD was made official by a department personnel order dated April 7.

"In order to accelerate and further strengthen the implementation of the Aquino Health Agenda following the overall framework of Universal Health Care or Kalusugang Pangkalahatan, Dr Enrique Tayag, Director IV, Epidemiology Bureau, is hereby re-assigned to the Bureau of Local Health Systems Development," the order read.

Taking his place as officer-in-charge at NEC is Dr Vito Roque Jr.

Changes at NEC

Garin told Rappler there will be changes at NEC to "bring it back where it was before and create a pipeline so NEC will really be producing timely and accurate data."

"Sa NEC, actually, we’re being more aggressive now on data-gathering and timely inputs. Yung data kasi ng NEC, the National Epidemiology Center, is very important in so far as planning is concerned. Kung yung data na dumarating sa amin ay one year ago, two years ago, hindi namin magagamit yun," Garin told Rappler.

(In NEC, actually, we’re being more aggressive now on data-gathering and timely inputs. The data at NEC, the National Epidemiology Center, is very important in so far as planning is concerned. If the data coming in is from one year ago, two years ago, we can't use that.)

To improve the process, the department is putting in place mentorship between senior epidemiologists processing data, and junior epidemiologists gathering data on the ground.

"No need for directives. Yung automatic na sila gagalaw, look for data, and then give it to us, and allow the programs na maka-move on," she added.

(No need for directives. We want them to move automatically, look for data, and then give it to us, and allow the programs to move on.)

DOH tapped former Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit and his wife to be the department’s advisers in mapping out the program at NEC. 

Dayrit, who was health secretary from 2001 to 2005, started in the department as a research epidemiologist and was involved in training field epidemiologists. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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