Department of Health

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The Department of Health (DOH; Filipino: Kagawaran ng Kalusugan), is the administrative department of the Philippine government charged with overseeing the health of the public. The department is obligated to make sure that health services are made available and accessible to all Philippine citizens. Among its tasks are to improve healthcare quality and ensure that health care facilities are up to standard. The current secretary of the department is Francisco Duque III.


American Period

Under American colonial rule, a Board of Health was established with its formal organization on 29 September 1898, headed by Frank S. Bourns. The board was put up for American soldiers who were injured in battling Filipino troops. As peace agreements were underway, however, the Board of Health was turned into a civilian agency. It was then headed by L.M. Maus, who became the country's first health commissioner.

During the first years of the 20th century, an epidemic gripped the country, claiming 200,222 lives and pushing the Americans to put up more health institutions. In 1901, they established the Bureau of Governmental Laboratories for the purpose of conducting research and producing vaccines.

In 1905, Dean Worcester headed the founding of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and Surgery, which was patterned after the prestigious Johns Hopkins University. Just four years later, in 1909, the Philippine Normal School introduced nursing courses to its curriculum. The Americans also installed an improved sewage system so that the citizens had access to cleaner water.

The Bureau of Health was transformed into the Philippine Health Service in 1915. With the enactment of the Organic Act of 1916, more and more health facilities were placed under the responsibility of Filipino medical practitioners. The first Filipino to head all health concerns of the nation was Dr. Vicente De Jesus, who was appointed on January 1, 1919.

The Philippine Health Service was renamed Bureau of Health in 1933. The bureau published its own journal, The Health Messenger, and erected health centers in different communities. These communal health care facilities would be succeeded by the barangay health centers today.

In 1936, Governor-General Frank Murphy proclaimed that the Philippines bested all other Eastern countries when it came to the quality of healthcare.

When the Commonwealth of the Philippines was installed, Jose Fabella became head of the Bureau of Health. Fabella made an official account of all the health care facilities in the country at that time (1936), and found that there were already 11 community health centers, 38 hospitals, 215 puericulture centers, 374 sanitary facilities, 1,535 dispensaries, and 72 laboratories.

Japanese Period

The Bureau of Health became the Department of Health and Public Welfare in the 1940s. Tuberculosis, malnutrition, malaria, leprosy, gastrointestinal disease, and high mortality rate amongst children were the major health issues the department was dealing with at the time.

During the Japanese occupation, Claro M. Recto was designated to take over public health concerns when he became the commissioner of the Department of Education, Health and Public Welfare. In 1944, President Manuel Roxas, signed Executive Order No. 94, which called for the establishment of the Department of Health. This proved crucial at the end of the war, where health-related problems afflicted the country. In 1948, under health secretary Antonio Villarama, three subsidiaries of the DOH were created: the Bureau of Hospitals, the Bureau of Quarantine, and the Institute of Nutrition.


The Department of Health was decentralized in 1958 under Executive Order 288. Upon the establishment of eight new regional health offices, regional directors took over some of the secretary of health's responsibilities.

Public health also became highly prioritized during President Ferdinand Marcos's regime. Between 1975 and 1985, four major hospitals were established, each with a different field of specialization. These hospitals were the Philippine Heart Center (founded on 14 February 1975), the Philippine Children's Medical Center (established on 10 August 1979), the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (founded on 16 January 1981), and the Lung Center of the Philippines (established on 16 January 1981). The Department of Health, headed by Clemente Gatmaitan also became the "Ministry of Health" in 1978. When the ministry reverted to the Department of Health (DOH) on 13 April 1987 with Alfredo R. A. Bengzon as health secretary.

Let's DOH It

In 1995, President Fidel V. Ramos appointed Juan Flavier, a UP-trained "country doctor." Considered to be the most popular secretary of the DOH, Flavier hyped the programs and projects of the agency using his slogan "Let's DOH it" to put his campaigns in the consciousness of the population. Many of the projects he initiated included Healthy Places Initiative, Stop D.E.A.T.H Program, National Voluntary Blood Service Program, Oplan Sagip Mata, Yosi Kadiri, Doctors to the Barrios Project, Hataw Fitness Program, Pusong Pinoy, and Hospitals as Center for Wellness Program. Just three years after becoming DOH secretary, Flavier eventually ran for senator, winning under Ramos administration ticket.

Reforms in the Agency

In answer to the urgent need for reforms, In 1999, DOH developed Health Sector Reform Agenda (HSRA) to implement reforms in the agency. HSRA is the blueprint on how the best health care is to be delivered, regulated, and funded. The HSRA specifies reforms in 5 major areas in the health sector: public health, hospital reform, health financing, health regulation and local health system which addresses the problems brought about by decentralization.

On 1 June 2005, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Francisco Duque as secretary of the DOH because of his efficient leadership at the helm of PhilHealth. DOH was heavily involved in response efforts against various health emergencies and disasters such as the Guimaras oil spill (2005), the Leyte Guinsaugon landslide (2006), St. Andrew's School mercury spill (2006), melamine-laced milk products (2008), Typhoon Ondoy (2009) and the Ebola Reston in pigs (2009). FOURmula One for Health (F1) was also implemented to initiate reforms.

DOH under PNoy

During the administration of Noynoy Aquino, several milestones were achieved. This includes the implementation of Universal Health Coverage as the new platform on health, Framework on Health Sector Response to Terrorism and the National Policy on Climate Change Adaptation on for the Health Sector; as well as the passing of important laws such as Sin Tax Reform Law, Food Safety Act, and the controversial Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, which has received opposition from religious groups. The DOH also launched dengue vaccination campaign where about 700,000 individuals received at least one dose of the Sanofi Pasteur's Dengvaxia vaccine. The vaccination, however, was stopped when Sanofi Pasteur advised the government of its side effect to people who have not contracted the disease. The event eventually became a political controversy, with allegation of corruption surfacing in the investigation.

DOH at Present

A total of ₽96.336 billion was allocated to the DOH in the 2017 national budget, which included funds for the construction of additional health facilities and drug rehabilitation centers. Poor patients in government hospitals will no longer present Philhealth cards when they avail of assistance.

The DOH presented the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water (PNSDW) of 2017 to various stakeholders. Embodied in the DOH Administrative Order No. 10 series of 2017, it prescribes the standards and procedures on drinking quality water to protect the public and consumer’s health.

DOH COVID-19 Response

The agency has been at the forefront of the nationwide response against the Covid-19. Following the first confirmed Covid-19 patient on 7 March 2020, the DOH raised its alert to Code Red Sub-Level 1, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a public health emergency and eventually leading to different levels of community quarantines and lockdowns. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) announced a ₱30-billion ($581-million) worth of advance payment to its accredited health facilities for health care providers to obtain the liquid capital required to efficiently respond to the crisis. PhilHealth also subsided some of its policies on its members.

The agency, however, has been criticized for not pushing for mass testing which, many experts said, could help immediately identify, isolate, or hospitalize people who are infected, thus containing the infection. The deficiency prompted many private groups, including the Philippine Red Cross, to offer their own testing kits.

The DOH has also been criticized for the slow release of the special risk allowance (SRA) of health care workers battling the Covid-19 pandemic, with several groups and politicians calling for the resignation of Duque.

List of Secretaries of Health

# Name Term Began Term Ended President
Secretary of Public Instruction, Health, and Public Welfare
1 Sergio Osmeña Sr. December 24, 1941 August 1, 1944 Manuel L. Quezon
Secretary of Health and Public Welfare
2 Basilio J. Valdes February 27, 1945 July 12, 1945 Sergio Osmeña
3 Jose Locsin July 12, 1945 May 27, 1946
4 Antonio Villarama May 28, 1946 October 3, 1947 Manuel Roxas
Secretary of Health
Antonio Villarama October 3, 1947 April 15, 1948 Manuel Roxas
April 17, 1948 December 31, 1949 Elpidio Quirino
5 Juan S. Salcedo December 14, 1950 December 30, 1953
December 30, 1953 May 1954 Ramon Magsaysay
6 Paulino Garcia June 1954 March 17, 1957
March 17, 1957 June 1958 Carlos P. Garcia
7 Elpidio Valencia July 1958 December 30, 1961
8 Francisco Q. Duque, Jr. December 30, 1961 July 1963 Diosdado Macapagal
9 Floro Dabu July 1963 December 1964
10 Manuel Cuenco December 1964 December 30, 1965
11 Paulino Garcia December 30, 1965 August 1968 Ferdinand Marcos
12 Amadeo H. Cruz August 1968 December 1971
13 Clemente S. Gatmaitan December 1971 June 30, 1978
Minister of Health
Clemente S. Gatmaitan June 30, 1978 1979 Ferdinand Marcos
14 Enrique Garcia 1979 1981
15 Jesus Azurin 1981 February 25, 1986
Secretary of Health
16 Alfredo Bengzon March 25, 1986 February 7, 1992 Corazon Aquino
17 Antonio Periquet February 10, 1992 June 30, 1992
18 Juan Flavier July 1, 1992 January 30, 1995 Fidel Ramos
19 Jaime Galvez-Tan January 30, 1995 July 5, 1995
20 Hilarion Ramiro, Jr. July 10, 1995 March 22, 1996
21 Carmencita Reodica April 8, 1996 June 29, 1998
22 Felipe Estrella June 30, 1998 September 13, 1998 Joseph Estrada
23 Alberto Romualdez September 14, 1998 January 20, 2001
24 Manuel Dayrit January 20, 2001 2005 Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
25 Francisco Duque June 1, 2005 September 1, 2009
26 Esperanza Cabral September 1, 2009 June 30, 2010
27 Enrique Ona June 30, 2010 December 19, 2014 Benigno Simeon Aquino III
28 Janette Garin February 17, 2015 June 30, 2016
** Paulyn Ubial June 30, 2016 October 10, 2017 Rodrigo Duterte
* Herminigildo Valle October 12, 2017 October 25, 2017
(25) Francisco Duque October 26, 2017 Incumbent

Organizational Structure

Unit Offices

The DOH is made up of bureaus, services & program offices under the following teams:

  • Administration and Financial Management Team
    • Administrative Service
    • Finance Management Service
    • Malasakit Program Office
  • Field Implementation and Coordination Team
    • Ilocos Center for Health Development
    • Cagayan Valley Center for Health Development
    • Central Luzon Center for Health Development
    • Calabarzon Center for Health Development
    • Mimaropa Center for Health Development
    • Bicol Center for Health Development
    • Western Visayas Center for Health Development
    • Central Visayas Center for Health Development
    • Eastern Visayas Center for Health Development
    • Zamboanga Peninsula Center for Health Development
    • Northern Mindanao Center for Health Development
    • Davao Center for Health Development
    • Soccsksargen Center for Health Development
    • Caraga Center for Health Development
    • Cordillera Center for Health Development
    • Metro Manila Center for Health Development
    • Bangsamoro Ministry of Health
  • Health Facilities and Infrastructure Development Team
    • Bureau of Quarantine
    • Health Facilities Development Bureau (formerly National Center For Health Facilities Development)
    • Health Facilities Enhancement Program
    • Knowledge Management & Information Service
  • Health Policy and Systems Development Team
    • Bureau of International Health Cooperation
    • Bureau of Local Health Systems Development
    • Health Human Resource Development Bureau
    • Health Policy Development and Planning Bureau
  • Health Regulation Team
    • Bureau of Quarantine
    • Health Facilities and Services Regulatory Bureau
    • Pharmaceutical Division
  • Office of the Chief of Staff
    • Internal Audit Service
    • Legal Service
  • Procurement and Supply Chain Management Team
    • Procurement Service
    • Supply Chain Management Service
  • Public Health Services Team
    • Disease Prevention and Control Bureau
    • Epidemiology Bureau (formerly National Epidemiology Center)
    • Health Promotion and Communication Service
    • Health Emergency Management Bureau

Attached agencies and hospitals

Attached agencies

The following agencies and councils are attached to the DOH for policy and program coordination:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • National Nutrition Council (NNC)
  • Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC; PhilHealth)
  • Philippine Institute for Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC)
  • Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC)

Retained hospitals

The following hospitals are directly under the DOH:

DOH Hospitals Specialty Hospitals
  • Amang Rodriguez Medical Center
  • Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital
  • Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital
  • East Avenue Medical Center
  • José R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center
  • National Center for Mental Health
  • National Children's Hospital
  • Philippine Orthopedic Center
  • Quirino Memorial Medical Center
  • Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
  • Rizal Medical Center
  • San Lazaro Hospital
  • Tondo Medical Center
  • Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
  • Lung Center of the Philippines
  • National Kidney and Transplant Institute
  • Philippine Children's Medical Center
  • Philippine Heart Center
  • Reproductive Health Clinic (9 branches)


  • “Milestone.” Official Website of the Department of Health. (Accessed on 18 June 2010).
  • “DOH Profile.” Official Website of the Department of Health. (Accessed on 18 June 2010).