Friday, April 7, 2017

Neoliberal Policies Make People Crazy

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"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.##

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