Doing the Right Thing

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Monday, June 8, 2020 - 01:00
  • Australia Awards
  • Philippines

Dr. Jose Rafael “Raffy” Marfori is at the forefront of the Philippine war against COVID-19 as he handles multiple priority work at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Dr. Marfori works behind the scenes in and outside the walls of PGH – the country’s COVID-19 Referral Centre – to respond to the crisis.

Australia Awards alumnus Dr. Jose Rafael “Raffy” Marfori’s role radically changed with the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Philippines. As Special Assistant to the Director for Flagship Projects of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Dr. Marfori’s role went from handling priority non-routine initiatives to handling multiple priority work to respond to the COVID-19 crisis while PGH transformed into a war zone as the country’s COVID-19 referral centre.


Since March 2020, Dr. Marfori has been working behind the scenes in and outside the walls of the hospital. Taking inspiration from exemplary programs in Melbourne, he led the PGH Bike Program, which assigned bicycles to PGH health workers who needed an alternative mode of transportation during Metro Manila’s community quarantine. He also organised shuttle services for health workers and provided strategic recommendations to the Department of Health (DOH) in producing much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontliners.


Dr. Marfori also worked on two important frameworks, which are now being used as key tools in the Philippines’ fight against COVID-19: a blueprint for mass testing of COVID-19 in the Philippines, which became the overall framework of the Department of Health (DOH); and a framework for an innovative modular type of benefit package to accommodate the nuances of COVID-19 care, in collaboration with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). As the Philippines welcomes a new normal, Dr. Marfori works with the PGH, University of the Philippines, PhilHealth and WHO on a proposal for PGH to serve as demonstrator and innovator of what health care could look like when the country transitions from a COVID-19 crisis to a COVID-19-aware society.


Like a modern-day warrior, Dr. Marfori has been tackling each job with all that he has, taking inspiration from his passion to help address the huge gaps in the Philippine health systems. But perhaps his most significant contribution to the COVID-19 war yet, was providing the much-needed inspiration for his leader, PGH Director Dr Gerardo “Gap” Legaspi, during a crucial time of decision-making:


“He asked what I thought about the call of the Department of Health (DOH) and of private hospitals to turn our hospital into a COVID-19 Referral Center.  Knowing he would make the right decision regardless, and aware that he was facing near-unanimous opposition for it, I merely boiled it down for him to a question of, ‘Is it the right thing to do?’  His conviction must be absolute, I replied, to outlast the prevailing sentiments of fear, which were to be expected. The next day his letter to the PGH community made the news, proclaiming in its last line, ‘Let us do this because deep in our hearts – devoid of fear and anger – it is the right thing to do.’” 


Since then the PGH has been at the forefront of the Philippines’ war against COVID-19.




Dr Jose Rafael Marfori received his Master of Public Health from the University of Melbourne in 2015. Read his full story here: