Dr. Esperanza Icasas-Cabral is a cardiologist, physician, teacher, scientist and an advocate of the ideals and values she believes in. Among them is her stance to protect the Filipino’s health amidst the ire of the Catholic Church.
They also cried for her resignation and appealed to then-presidential front-runner Benigno Aquino III to lay off Cabral once he assumed the presidency.
Since her appointment, Cabral has been blunt of her policies and principles. She believes that the Reproductive Health bill can curb the country’s population, which totals to 92,226,600 people as of 2009. This Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development would enforce age-appropriate reproductive health education starting in Grade 5, and mandates purchase of contraceptives by state hospitals.
She also issued an administrative order instructing tobacco companies to add graphic information on cigarettes’ packs. This would just be in compliance with the "Framework Convention on Tobacco Control" signed in 2003 and ratified by the Senate in 2005. Cabral obliged the herbal industry to translate the warning “No Therapeutic Claims Approved” on their products.
She gave away pills. She distributed condoms right at Dangwa on Valentine’s Day. Better spend the P2.5 million donated by international companies than risk the society’s vulnerability for sexually transmitted infections (STI). There are 4,424 cases of HIV/AIDS to date, 835 of which occurred in 2009 alone.
Cabral banned mercury importation. Some 20 students from St. Andrew’s School in Paranaque were poisoned by the chemical, one of which was diagnosed of Parkinsonism and nerve damage. Since then, she refrained from issuing mercury permits on all local health units. Mercury is used in sphygmomanometers and thermometers.
Her opposition with tradition displeased some people, according to a Pulse Asia survey conducted March 21 to 28. Funny because despite of the ratings drop, Cabral remained as the highest rated of all seven Cabinet officials included in the survey, and the DOH remained the second highest-rated government agency.
For everything she has done that labeled her ‘immoral’ with ‘one of her feet already in hell,’ President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stayed with her, along with the Forum of Family Planning and Development (FORUM), the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) and the Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare Inc. (PNGOC)
Cabral earned her medical degree at the University of the Philippines. A Pasay native, she went to the United States to train at the Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and Joslin Clinic. She taught at the UP College of Medicine Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology thereafter and became the director of the Philippine Heart Center. She also served at the Asian Hospital & Medical Center as a chief cardiologist, edited a number of medical journals and publications, authored and co-authored about 85 scientific papers, and hosted a TV show on Channels 13 (HeartWatch) and 9 (InfoMedico).
As if her professional career isn’t already brimming, Cabral was appointed director of the Philippine Heart Center, consultant for the Dangerous Drugs Board, the Bureau of Food and Drugs and the Department of Health, and commissioner of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women.
Cabral received only four awards for all of her efforts (a nice reminder for people who measure their efforts in recognitions). These are the National Outstanding Young Scientist for Medicine Award (1981), Philippine Society of Experimental & Clinical Pharmacology Achievement Award (1982), Outstanding Woman in the Nation’s Service Award for Medicine (1986) and Dr. Jose P. Rizal Award by the Philippine Medical Association (1991).
It’s probably high-time for Pilipina Ako to soften her guard on ‘artificial means of population control’. Espie, with an ophthalmologist (Dr. Bienvenido V. Cabral) for a husband and three medical doctors (Cristina, Patricia Anne and Brian Michael) for children, seems to be a reasonable person. Pilipina Ako thinks she would support a ‘manmade regulation’, provided that the society would commit itself to learn accountability and responsibility meanwhile.