IATF to continue function even after Duterte’s term ends; Salvana eyed as next Health chief
As the national government transitions to a new administration, so does the policymakers of the country’s pandemic task force leading the Philippines’ fight against the evolving coronavirus.,The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) of the incoming Marcos administration will convene as soon as president-elect Bongbong Marcos selects his Health chief.,In a message to Daily Tribune on Monday, 13 June, outgoing Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año clarified that even though the Duterte administration will come to an end on 30 June, the IATF-EID will “continue” as long there is a pandemic.,[Related story: Revamp IATF, medical groups urge Bongbong] ,“The composition remains and only the persons would change. The pandemic is not yet over hence the IATF will continue to function in order to manage the Covid 19 pandemic and other health concerns,” said Año.,Año pointed out that while IATF-EID became prominent during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency was actually created by virtue of an Executive Order 168 during the term of the late former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in 2014.,Aquino ordered the creation of the pandemic task force to lead the country’s response against the emergence of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Avian influenza, Ebola Virus Disease, and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus infections that affected the country during his presidential term.,The agency is composed of representatives from the Department of Health (DoH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and other government agencies.,Año was also asked if there will be a transition process between the outgoing and incoming members of the IATF-EID.,“There will be no (transitioning) because the undersecretaries and assistant secretaries will remain in the Technical Working Group. The new DoH Secretary will convene the IATF in due time,” he disclosed.,So far, Marcos has named former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos as his DILG chief., ,Salvana as next DoH Secretary? ,Meanwhile, doctor Edsel Salvana — a molecular epidemiologist and IATF-EID consultant — is rumored to be the successor of DoH Secretary Francisco Duque III.,Marcos’s camp, however, remains mum on who the next Chief Executive is eying to lead the DoH.,In an interview last month, Salvana said he would rather “focus on Covid-19 prevention and control” than comment on rumors that he could be nominated as the next DoH chief.,He is a member of the DoH Technical Advisory Group and director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health at the University of the Philippines in Manila.,The IATF-EID has recently placed Metro Manila and 62 other places in the country under the most lenient Alert Level 1 classification until 15 June.,Marcos earlier said his pandemic response would focus on helping business establishments and displaced workers get back on their feet.,He also promised to augment the budget for the country’s healthcare system as well as increase health workers’ salaries and benefits.