Health organizations led by Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) join the massive protest during the President Aquino’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) to dramatize the real state of the nation's health.
Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD secretary general said,“health care under P-noy has only gone worse with his policies and programs of privatization and other deceptive palliatives.”
The group lamented that nothing politically healthy and positive came out of Aquino. From the appointment of a pro-business secretary to the Department of Health to the Aquino Health Agenda, to his obsession to PhilHealth as an answer to the inaccessibility of health care. “So far Aquino’s programs on health care point only to the direction of institutionalizing a policy of public health care for sale, as translated by profit schemes in public hospitals as he justifies this by budget cuts in social services like health, ” Rivera said.
Income generation has been the policy for public hospitals, with the diminution of their budget. Management of public hospitals are directed to earn than to ask for higher health budget. In the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the country’s flagship hospital, Class D indigent patients are now being charged with like X-ray and other laboratory fees previously given free of charge. Worse, even the use of comfort rooms in the said hospital has been a target for income generation. Inside the PGH complex, private clinics, pharmacy and laboratory services are being leased out to a businessman at the Faculty Medical Arts Building (FMAB is being leased out by private businessman, wherein private clinics, pharmacy and laboratory services operates as private enterprise to gain income). At the Philippine Orthopedic Center, there had been an increase of 100-200% in its fees for medical services.
Hospitals including Philippine Orthopedic Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine,San Lazaro Hospital, Everley Chilles Hospital and Western Visayas Sanitarium are all targets of his privatization program as declared in the Public-Private Partnership Summit in November last year. Meanwhile, the National Center for Mental Health is in danger of being phased out with the impending sale of its location, Welfareville in Mandaluyong, which will affect more than 4000 patients.
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PhilHealth will not solve the basic problems of inaccessibility of the poor to health care. What will be the benefit of a PhilHealth membership when in many parts of the country, the lack of health facilities and medical personnel remains sorely unaddressed? Even the proposed P44.4B health budget for 2012 does not reflect the much needed budget to maintain existing facilities nor to improve them.
Meanwhile, instead of creating and filling plantilla positions in many understaffed public hospitals and health agencies, Aquino pursues the RN Heals program. The program is very temporary and takes advantage of unemployed nurses.
The group challenges Aquino to genuinely respond to the need of the ailing health care system. He should work on increasing the health budget, stop privatization of public hospitals, protect the democratic and economic welfare of public health workers and professionals and stop being subservient to the dictates of the World Trade Organization.
Furthermore, Aquino should heed the people who cry for just wages for workers, genuine agrarian reform for farmers, justice for victims of human rights violations and make Gloria Macapagal-Arroy and her cohorts accountable for their plunder and abuse of the Filipino people.
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Militants: We’ve heard that last year:Militants: We’ve heard that last year