September 30, 2016
Abolish Fabella, Ubial’s Health Agenda
“Profit interests prevail on the transfer and eventual abolition of Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. The Department of Health (DOH) under the leadership of Health Secretary Jean Paulyn Ubial is all for the commodification of healthcare,” said Dr. Joseph Carabeo, HEAD Secretary General.
“The transfer of Fabella Hospital, the decrease in its bed capacity, the land’s turnover to private entities, and DOH’s push for its corporatization are all manifestations of neoliberal policies imposed on health,” said Dr. Carabeo. “This will resulted to increased rates on hospitalization and laboratory fees, among others. Through corporatization, the DOH has abandoned its mandate to safeguard the health of Filipinos in exchange of profit for the few,” he said.
The transfer of administration offices of Fabella Hospital to the Philippine Blood Center building in the Lung Center of the Philippines compound is set to proceed on October 3, 2016. This is in conjunction with the decrease in bed capacity from 700 to 200 in the main building of the National Maternity Hospital located in Sta. Cruz, Manila. Dr. Esmeraldo Ilem, medical chief of Fabella Hospital “is only too happy to comply with Ubial’s dictates,” quipped Dr. Carabeo. “Need we say more when actions speak louder than words? Cutting the accessibility to quality maternal healthcare for thousands of mothers and their children is like cutting the umbilical cord pre-maturely.”
The Department of Health under the previous and present health secretary also insists that Fabella Hospital is “structurally unsound,” but according to Dr. Carabeo, this “alibi” has been long debunked. “They want to turn the land into a business center. Ilem and Ubial’s subservience to profit only puts mothers and their children, and even the health workers, at greater risk than their worn-out alibis.”
Dr. Carabeo also expressed his remorse on the P40 million budget cut on Fabella’s maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE, P94 million in 2016 to P53 million in 2017). “This, despite being recognized by WHO (World Health Organization) as a role model for its essential newborn programs. This, despite DOH’s mandate to improve maternal mortality rates to WHO standards. If DOH is serious in its mandate to reducematernal deaths, the health budget must increase for maternal healthcare, and efforts must support this goal.The Ubial Health Agenda’s thrust is doing the opposite.”
HEAD criticizes the Ubial Health Agenda as anti-poor and pro-business. “The Ubial Health Agenda preaches so-called sustainability, centered on profit-driven and market-oriented policies, in public hospitals when they should be catering to the majority of Filipinos who are poor,” said Dr. Carabeo. “It must abandon the neoliberal policies of privatization and corporatization of public hospitals and instead strengthen the public healthcare delivery system. This could be achieved by ensuring a free, comprehensive, progressive healthcare,” he concludes.