Esperanza Alcantara Icasas-Cabral was the Secretary of the Department of Health in the Philippines. She took office in January 2010 replacing Dr. Francisco Duque after his appointment as head of the Civil Service Commission. Before her appointment as Secretary of Health, she was previously the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, replacing Corazon Soliman. Dr. Cabral is married to Dr. Bienvenido Villegas Cabral, an ophthalmologist.
Dr. Cabral, who is a cardiologist and clinical pharmacologist, graduated from medical school at the University of the Philippines. She extended her medical and pharmacological training at the U.P. Philippine General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Joslin Clinic in Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr. Cabral has long served as an educator and leader in Philippine medicine. At the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, she was a professor of medicine and pharmacology. She served both as Director of the Philippine Heart Center and Chief of Cardiology of Asian Hospital and Medical Center. She authored and co-authored more than 85 scientific papers on hypertension, cardiovascular pharmacology and clinical and preventive cardiology. She educated the public as a TV show host on "HeartWatch" on IBC Channel 13 and "InfoMedico" on NBN Channel 4.
She served during the administration of President Corazon Aquino as Director of the Philippine Heart Center. She also consulted for the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) and the Department of Health. Earlier she served as Commissioner for Science and Health on the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women.
She has earned a number of awards. In 1981, she received the National Outstanding Young Scientist for Medicine Award from the Department of Science and Technology. In 1982, the Philippine Society of Experimental & Clinical Pharmacology's Achievement Award. In 1986, she was named the Outstanding Woman in the Nation’s Service for Medicine. In 1991, she received the first Dr. Jose P. Rizal Award by the Philippine Medical Association. She has also been named the Most Distinguished Scientist by the Philippine Heart Association in 1993, the Outstanding Alumnus for Research for 1993 by the UP College of Medicine and the Distinguished Researcher for 1998 by the Philippine College of Physicians.
In January 2010, the National Bureau of Investigation filed a libel complaint on behalf of Secretary Cabral after a blog post under the pseudonym "Ella Rose delos Santos" alleged "...that she [Sec. Cabral] and the DSWD employees are corrupt, having diverted donated goods for personal gain at the expense of the typhoon victims and [are] downright incompetent."