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.##