The Department of Health (DOH) is mandated to be the over-all technical authority on health. The major mandate of DOH is to provide national policy direction and develop national plans, technical standards and guidelines on health. It is also a regulator of all health services and products; and provider of special or tertiary health care services and of technical assistance to other health providers specially to Local Government Units (LGU).

With other health providers and stakeholders, the DOH shall pursue and assure the following:

  • Promotion of the health and well-being for every Filipino;
  • Prevention and control of diseases among population at risk;
  • Protection of individuals, families and communities exposed to health hazards & risks; and
  • Treatment, management and rehabilitation of individuals affected by diseases and disability.

The 1987 Constitution, Article II, Section 15 declares that “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them. Also, Articles XIII, on Social Justice and Human Rights on Health, declares that it is the responsibility of the State to “adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost. There shall be priority for the needs of the under-privileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children. The State shall endeavor to provide free medical care to paupers” (Section12); “establish and maintain an effective food and drug regulatory system and undertake appropriate health, manpower development, and research, responsive to the country's health needs and problems” (Section 12); and “establish a special agency for disabled person for their rehabilitation, self-development, and selfreliance, and their integration into the mainstream of society”(Section 13).

Other statutes depicting the legal mandate of the Department of Health are: Executive Order 102, “Redirecting the Functions and Operations of the Department of Health,” issued by the Office of the President on May 24, 1999; Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code; and Executive Order 272, Executive Order 292, Administrative Code of 1087, Section 2, Chapter 1, Title IX).

Based on Executive Order 102, issued by the Office of the President in May 24, 1999, the DOH is responsible for and serve as the:

  • Lead agency in articulating national objectives for health, to guide the development of local health systems, programs and services;
  • Direct service provider for specific programs that affect large segments of the population, tuberculosis, malaria, schistosomiasis, HIV-AIDS and other emerging infections and micronutrient deficiencies;
  • Lead agency in health emergency response services, including referral and networking systems for trauma, injuries and catastrophic events;
  • Technical authority in disease control and prevention;
  • Lead agency in ensuring equity, access and quality of health care services through policy formulation, standards development and regulations;
  • Technical oversight agency in charge of monitoring and evaluating the implementation of health programs, projects research, training and services;
  • Administrator of selected health facilities at sub-national levels that act as referral centers for local health systems i.e., tertiary and special hospitals, reference laboratories, training centers, centers for health promotion, center for disease control, and prevention, regulatory offices among others;
  • Innovator of new strategies for responding to emerging needs;
  • Advocate for health promotion and healthy life styles for the general population;
  • Capacity-builder of LGUs, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, peoples organizations, national government agencies in implementing health programs, services, through technical collaborations, logistical support, provision of grants and allocation and other partnership mechanism;
  • Lead agency health and medical research;
  • Facilitator of the development of health industrial complex in partnership with the private sector to ensure self-sufficiency in the production of biologicals, vaccines and drugs and medicines;
  • Lead agency in health emergency preparedness and response;
  • Protector of standards of excellence in the training and education of health care providers at all levels of the health care system;
  • Implementer of the National Health Insurance Law; providing administrative and technical leadership in health care financing; and
  • Expressing national objectives for health to lead the progress of local health systems, programs and services.

Essentially, the DOH has three specific roles in the health sector: leadership in health, enabler and capacity builder and administrator of specific services namely, national and sub-national health facilities and hospitals serving as referral centers, direct services for emergent health concerns requiring complicated technologies and assessed as critical for public welfare and health emergency response services, referral and networking systems for trauma, injuries, catastrophic events, epidemics and other widespread public danger. To accomplish its mandate and roles the Department has the following power and functions based on Executive Order 102:

  • Formulate national policies and standards for health;
  • Prevent and control leading causes of death and disability;
  • Develop disease surveillance and health information systems;
  • Maintain national health facilities and hospitals with modern and advanced capabilities to support local services;
  • Promote health and well-being through public information and to provide the public with timely and relevant on health risks and hazards;
  • Develop and implement strategies to achieve appropriate expenditure patterns in health as recommended by international agencies;
  • Develop sub-national centers and facilities for health promotion, disease control and prevention, standards, regulations and technical assistance;
  • Promote and maintain international linkages for technical collaboration;
  • Create the environment for the development of a health industrial complex;
  • Assume leadership in health in times of emergencies, calamities, and disasters and system failures;
  • Ensure quality of training and health human resource development at all levels of the health care system;
  • Oversee financing of the health sector and ensure equity and accessibility to health services; and
  • Articulate the national health research agenda and ensure the provision of sufficient resources and logistics to attain excellence in evidenced-based intervention for health.

To perform these functions are the various central bureaus and services and sixteen (16) field offices called Centers for Health Development in every region including specialty hospitals and regional hospitals and medical centers. It also have provincial health teams made up of DOH representatives to local health boards and technical personnel for communicable disease control.