Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Health Groups Support #OccupyBulacan!

Health Alliance for Democracy and other health groups will join the People's Caravan in support of #OccupyBulacan on March 18, Saturday. "This Occupy movement is a culmination of the urban poor's desire to liberate themselves from dire and unhealthy living conditions," said HEAD Secretary General Dr. Joseph Carabeo. "Where the government fails, the people will assert."

"Homelessness unnecessarily exposes people to sickness and disease. The Duterte administration should therefore acknowledge the legitimate demands of the urban poor and heed their call instead of tagging as anarchy their assertion and collective action," said Dr. Carabeo. "The urban poor communities under Kadamay assert their rights because the government institutions have been failing, yet these failures are shrugged off as a mere problem of bureaucracy. President Rodrigo Duterte should stand with the people."

HEAD members participate in a medical mission in the relocation sites occupied by Kadamay in Pandi, Bulacan.

"When we say health, the environment where people live is a huge factor. Decent homes contribute greatly to the prevention of disease," said Dr. Carabeo. "It doesn't help that when the poor get sick, the rotting public healthcare system also fails to give them free and adequate treatment."
Urban poor communities under Kadamay occupied around 5000 houses in a relocation site in Pandi, Bulacan on March 8. The group occupied vacant houses that have dilapidated over time as these have remained unused for years. On March 17, they occupied additional 1200 houses in Pandi Atlantica.

"The Duterte administration and the National Housing Authority along with the local government units should take further steps to improve the living conditions in the relocation sites," added Carabeo. "Electricity and water are among the basic needs that people need to attain a healthy and clean environment. Immediate action must be taken to ensure that the rights of the people are prioritized."

HEAD is one with the urban poor in their struggle for decent and healthy living conditions. Health groups will bring food, water, and health services to the occupied relocation sites as part of the People's Caravan in support of #OccupyBulacan.

Two Doctors in Two Months: On the killing of rural doctor Sajid "Jaja" Sinolinding

Health Alliance for Democracy condemns in the strongest terms the killing of Dr. Sajid "Jaja" Sinolinding in Cotabato City, Tuesday. The ophthalmologist was shot dead alongside his security escort in his clinic by a gunman who posed as a patient.

HEAD is outraged that two doctors have been ruthlessly killed in two months. Last March Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas, a municipal health officer in Lanao del Norte, was shot in the back—his and Dr. Jaja's killers remain at large.

"How many more health workers need to die before the Department of Health and this administration stop idling around and start protecting our barrio doctors?" asked Dr. Joseph Carabeo, HEAD secretary-general. "Every day front line health personnel are putting their lives on the line to serve their countrymen, but the government repays them with indifference, deaf to the bullets that kill them."

Health groups under the Protection and Justice for Frontline Health Workers (Pro-Just) call to stop the attacks on health workers, April 7, 2017.

"What's glaring in Dr. Jaja's case is that he already had a security escort. This did not stop him from getting killed," Carabeo remarked.

Carabeo implored the DOH and the local and national governments to hasten the investigations on the deaths of Dr. Perlas and Dr. Sinolinding. "The underserved areas have lost much-needed doctors, and that their cases remain unresolved sends a chilling message to health workers all over the country," he said.

The DOH in particular must stop hiding behind the local government units and the national government, and assert its role as protector of health workers. "There have been cases where local governments were involved in the harassment of health workers and professionals. These must be taken more seriously. The continuous harassment and killings of health workers and health professionals must not be dismissed as 'isolated cases'. Simply transferring health workers from one community to another will not stop them from being targeted," warned Carabeo. “If not the DOH, then who else will?"

HEAD calls on members of the health sector to be steadfast in their commitment to serve the people by uniting in the outrage against the murder of their colleagues. It also calls on the public to condemn this brutal killing and unite in the call for justice.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Neoliberal Policies Make People Crazy

"Neoliberal attacks and imperialist impositions threaten and worsen social determinants of mental health," said Dr. Joseph Carabeo, Secretary General of Health Alliance for Democracy, as health groups under the International League of People's Struggle–Health Commission, People's Health Movement–Southeast Asia, and the Coalition for People's Right to Health gathered in front of the World Health Organization office on UN Avenue, Ermita, Manila on World Health Day, April 7. "We collectively bring attention to the public and the policy holders, both global and local, the various issues that undermine the attainment of the people's right to health."

WHO takes on depression as the theme on this year's World Health Day. They acknowledged social inequality and the importance of social and physical determinants in achieving mental health, which include access to health resources, job security, public safety, and shelter among others. "Yet they are silent on continuous neoliberal attacks and imperialist impositions that threaten and worsen these very determinants," said Dr. Carabeo.

"In a nutshell, neoliberalism seeks to open up basic social services such as health to the market for profit, while the government forces down our throats the policies that permit this desecration of social services," explained Dr. Carabeo. "It justifies the imperialist need to open up new avenues for profit and business, so that imperialist countries and their bureaucrat capitalist allies can continue to prosper. Privatization or corporatization of healthcare is one prevalent example."

Health groups pose for photos: Social conditions such as poverty, landlessness, militarization, low wages and budget cuts affect mental health.

"The neoliberal policy of privatization or corporatization undermines access to health resources as the cost of services soar," added Carabeo. "Worse, government funding is redirected to health financing such as PhilHealth instead of direct hospital services, leaving patients at the mercy of health insurance and private hospitals seeking higher returns. Trade liberalization on the drug industry in the form of drug patents limits the production of cheaper if not free medicines. Meanwhile, neoliberal policies on employment such as contractualization undermine the job security of health workers. The list goes on as the health of the masses erodes along with these determinants."

"The Duterte administration and the Department of Health must not abandon its responsibility and ensure that public health interests are not trampled by business interests," added Carabeo. "The World Health Organization on the other hand must take further steps to press governments to pursue policies on the economic and political levels that promote mental health instead of undermining it. Neoliberal attacks on health in the Philippines must stop!"

"World Health Day should be a day for championing the people's right to health. We must resist neoliberal attacks and imperialist impositions on health. Let us bring these issues to the attention of the public and concerned institutions as we continue to struggle for our right to health!" Carabeo ended.##

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Justice Must Be Served Stat! Protect Frontline Health Personnel Now!

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) joins #BlackMonday and stands in solidarity with the collective condemnation of the killing of Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas. Dr. Perlas was the Municipal Health Officer of Sapad, Lanao del Norte when he was shot and killed last March 1.

Health personnel at the frontlines, including doctors, nurses, and midwives, face various difficulties and dangers in the performance of their duties. Yet the most dangerous of these hazards are those that are man-made: intimidations, harassments, and actual acts of violence that constitute not only gross human rights violations but also direct threats on their lives. This must stop.

Health professionals, health workers, and health science students mourn and condemn the killing of Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas.

We call for the swift institution of justice. Without the immediate resolution, conviction, and punishment of the perpetrators, the death of an MHO and a former member of the Doctors to the Barrios program of the Department of Health sends a chilling message to those who wish to serve in underserved areas. This must not happen.

We call on the DOH to come up with an unequivocal policy on the protection of health workers, both in the private and public sector, especially those who serve in disadvantaged and marginalized areas. The DOH, as well as the Duterte administration, should initiate actions and programs that will ensure the protection and security of health personnel all across the country. This must be done now.

We call on the health sector to honor the memory of Dr. Drey and others like him by remaining steadfast in their commitment and by continuing to serve the underserved.

We call on the general public to continue to express their outrage and join the clamor for justice. Let us link arms as we move forward with greater conviction and resolve.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

HEAD condemns killing of Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas

Health Alliance for Democracy condemns the killing of Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas, a dedicated community doctor serving in Sapad, Lanao Del Norte under the Doctors to the Barrios program by the Department of Health. The group calls on the Duterte government, the DOH, and the local government unit to thoroughly investigate the incident, go after the assailant/s and/or mastermind of the crime and accord the due penalty.

"Justice for Dr. Drey can also be served best if the government can assure the continuity of health services in the communities that he left and by addressing all obstacles to the delivery of health services including a secured environment for our health providers especially the volunteer doctors and nurses to the underserved areas," said Dr. Joseph Carabeo, HEAD Secretary General.

"While there will be chilling effects on present and future volunteers, we will not let this incident be used by the DOH to downsize further target volunteers and cut its budget allocation as it did in 2017, allegedly because there are few takers," Dr. Carabeo added. "Instead, the DOH should assert its protective, assuring, and influencing role for the unhampered delivery of service by its personnel."

HEAD will continue to exalt and support our heroes in health as they continue to serve in various difficult communities and dare turn their backs to the lure of lucrative practice in the city or abroad. Padayon gihapon!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

On EDSA 31: State fascism will intensify people’s resistance – health group

Health Alliance for Democracy joins the Filipino people in commemorating the 31st anniversary of the toppling of the US-Marcos dictatorship and the victory against state fascism, February 25, Saturday.

Health workers march towards Gate 2 of Camp Aguinaldo.

"We do not forget that the mass movement led the growing clamor against the widespread poverty, social injustice and political repression of the time," said Dr. Joseph Carabeo, secretary-general of HEAD. "This is the same, albeit stronger, mass movement that is now calling out the Duterte administration for the intensifying attacks on the people’s political, economic, and social liberties."

Following his withdrawal from the GRP-NDFP peace talks and his declaration of an all-out war, human rights violations have become more rampant throughout the country. According to KARAPATAN, Duterte has on his record 30 individuals languishing in jails for being advocates of human rights in their communities; they are now part of the 300 political prisoners yet to be freed despite being charged with trumped-up cases, most of them suffer from poor health. Even those from other factions of the ruling elite, such as the Liberal Party’s Leila de Lima, are made example of.

For all of the intensification of the human rights violations and political persecution, still left unaddressed are the old neoliberal policies perpetrated by regimes from Marcos to Noynoy Aquino: an import-dependent and export-oriented economy, contractualization and unjust wages, regressive tax policies, and ill-afford social services such as health and education.

Carabeo reminds Duterte, "all the fascist wars by past regimes failed because the basic ills of the people, the root causes of the armed conflict, were never addressed. Deaf to the lessons of history, they insisted on giving the wrong remedy to society's illnesses. The poor and hungry have become more convinced that the only way to achieve real change is to take up arms and overthrow this repressive state. "

Duterte would be very wise to take a completely different course: stop the all-out war enacted by the AFP and continue the peace talks. This is the perfect avenue for him to collaborate with the NDFP in enacting the socio-economic reforms that will address the root causes the armed rebellion. Or else, the war will endure.

In remembrance of the Filipino people’s victory more than three decades prior, and inspired by the increasing strength of the national democratic movement, the health sector stands resolute with the masses in the face of the intensifying fascist attacks on the people. "We will continue to join the struggle for true freedom and just peace," Carabeo ended.##

Friday, February 17, 2017

Health Sector Joins Clamor to Continue GRP-NDFP Peace Talks

Just peace and the attainment of people's health have become more elusive with the declaration of an "all out war" against the revolutionary forces of the New People's Army. Hundreds of professionals, health workers and health science students under Health Alliance for Democracy therefore joined the Black Friday protest to echo their sentiments on the government's withdrawal from the peace negotiations.

Health groups marched along Taft ave. toward Bonifacio Shrine
The substantial agenda on socio-economic reforms and political constitutional reforms have seen unprecedented progress during the third round of talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. "The health sector hopes that the peace talks continue to discuss further the comprehensive reforms, which will ensure not only quality and free health for Filipinos, but a healthy society as a whole," said HEAD Secretary General Dr. Joseph Carabeo.

"President Duterte, by listening to his militarist advisers and peace spoilers, has abandoned an alternative pro-people socio-economic policy drafted by both the GRP and NDFP panels by prematurely ending the peace talks and declaring an all-out war," Dr. Carabeo added. "Instead of addressing the roots of armed conflict, the Duterte administration inadvertently spreads misery as communities are militarized and human rights are violated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines."

"The substantial agenda on SER and PCR addresses the socio-economic roots of armed conflict, and this is the meat of the present peace negotiations. Duterte can still redeem himself by continuing the peace talks and honoring all previous agreements such as the JASIG and CAHRIHL. The Joint Monitoring Committee must also be enabled to receive and resolve cases of human rights violations springing from the inevitable fighting between the AFP and the NPA," Carabeo added.

 "The people’s clamor for a just and lasting peace is the ever compelling reason for peace talks, and we are one with the people in saying 'peace talks ituloy!'" concludes Carabeo.