January 30, 2017
Socio-Economic Reforms Improve Public Health
Health Secretary Dr. Ubial finally acknowledges the devolution of healthcare as the bane of the Philippine public health system, but proposes federalism as the solution. She blames the inability of local government units to provide adequate funding for health, yet proposes that devolution be implemented at regional levelsunder federalism. Health Alliance for Democracy believes that public health will improve only through socio-economic reforms that address the people's needs.
"Health services are relative to the capability of towns, municipalities and even regions altogether to provide adequate budget," said HEAD Secretary General Dr. Joseph Carabeo. "If the municipalities remain poor and without sources of funding, devolution will continue to fail even under a federal form of government."
"Genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization will provide food, jobs and wages to local communities," added Dr. Carabeo. "The products can then be sold to fund social services, including healthcare. As socio-economic situations are tied to health, uplifting the lives of Filipinos as a whole will improve health levels in the country."
Carabeo further argues that poor socio-economic conditions lead to health conditions that comprise the top 10 major diseases in the country, which are considered diseases of the poor. "Poorer regions and towns are much vulnerable to diseases," he said.
A public health system will also benefit in more ways aside from funding. "Free distribrution of land to poor farmers will ensure sufficient food for Filipinos and in turn, better nutrition," said Dr. Carabeo. "Meanwhile, national industrialization will help build a local pharmaceutical industry that will provide cheaper if not free medicine for the people."
Devolution also affected the wage and benefits of health practitioners, fuelling the growing clamor to centralize the Philippine health system. "Devolution of health only disheartens public health practitioners instead of encouraging them to serve those who are most in need. Aside from low wages, the lack of facilities and equipment remains a problem especially in the countryside," quipped Dr. Carabeo.
HEAD supports the implementation of genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization which addresses the socio-economic conditions related to health. The Duterte administration and DOH must stop abandoning their mandates to ensure the people's right to health. A Universal Public Health system that puts the interest of Filipinos first will create genuine change."