Various health groups challenged the Aquino government to be true to its word of making health care accessible to the poor. In a dialogue with leaders of the Deparment of Health, Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) led government hospital employees, doctors, nurses and other health professionals in seeking an end to privatization of health care delivery system. The group also demanded a P90B budget for health.
According to Jossel Ebesate, AHW National President, “As President Simeon Aquino prepares for his State of the Nation Address, he should remember and fulfill the promises he made as he assumed office a year ago. Foremost amongst these is to give utmost priority to the health of the people.”
The group noted that after one year, healthcare in the country has gone from bad to worse.
For instance, several state-run hospitals like the Philippine General Hospital and Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) are already charging patients various additional fees that were not done during the previous administration. In PGH, even Class D patients who used to receive full support (full charity) are now being charged various rates ranging from P 20 to P340 for diagnostic and laboratory examinations, all of which were previously free. Similarly, at the POC, the new rates are more than double the previous rates.
The promise of universal health care has been reduced to expanded coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), which remains a stop-gap measure. Doctors and nurses, still badly needed in the country, are not being employed properly with adequate remuneration. The RN HEALS program for nurses does not even provide nurses with the salary mandated by law and offers no real job security.
Worse, according to HEAD, the promotion of public-private partnerships by the Aquino administration has left public hospitals in a state of disrepair and neglect to justify the entry of private investments. Unfortunately, the poor and indigents patients are left to shoulder the burden.
Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD Secretary General, “Rather than promote the commercialization and sale of public hospitals, Aquino should stop the privatization of healthcare and provide a meaningful budget that allows public hospitals to fulfill their mandate of serving the underserved.”
“Enough of dole-outs and stopgap measures,” added Dr. Rivera. “President Aquino should stop the politics of palliatives and come up with long-term solulions that will address the roots of age-old problems in health.”###