Today, the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) and organizations belonging to the Network Opposed to Privatization (NOP) join together in a protest action dubbed as “Pribatisasyon ng Pampublikong Ospital: Kalbaryo ng Mamamayan” to denounce the privatization of Philippine Orthopedic Center and other government hospitals. The Kalbaryo starts in front of Santo Domingo Church in Quezon Avenue, passes through Angelicum School on Sto. Domingo St, Biak na Bato corner Quezon Avenue, Banawe corner Quezon Avenue and ends at the Philippine Orthopedic Center.
“There are many forms of health care privatization being pushed by the Aquino government at the expense of Filipino patients. One is the planned Public-Private Partnership (PPP) of Philippine Orthopedic Center through Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) scheme. Another is the sale of the Welfareville property in Mandaluyong City. The property houses, among others, the National Center for Mental Health,” said Dr. Eleanor Jara, convener of the Network.
“Other government hospitals are also up for grabs to the highest bidders through Aquino’s PPP Program, in the guise of modernization. These include the San Lazaro Hospital (SLH), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and 25 regional hospitals across the country”, added Dr. Jara.
“Foreign investors and business groups like Siemens, General Electric and Manny Pangilinan’s Mega Pacific are vying for the acquisition of these public institutions to rake super profits. Sadly, the privatization of public hospital will bleed the Filipino people dry, especially the poor as they will spend more for health services that should have been provided for free by the government ” said Dr. Darby Santiago, HEAD chairperson and NOP convenor.
“Present fees for services in government hospitals are already beyond the reach of many Filipinos. Government hospitals have instituted user-fees for services that were previously free, like in the Philippine General Hospital, while those that already have fees like the Philippine Orthopedic Center have increased their fees two-to-three-fold!” said Dr. Santiago added.
“The burden falls squarely on the patients especially the marginalized, who are already reeling from rising prices of basic goods and insufficient wages. In short, it is no longer just the disease but also the health service itself that has become catastrophic for ordinary Filipinos, putting many of them into further destitution,” Dr. Jara lamented.
Both Jara and Santiago deplore that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is openly calling for fast tracking the PPP to gain the confidence and please the economic interest of foreign investors and local big business.
According to the group, the provision of free, comprehensive and progressive health care is the responsibility of the state. Health is not a commodity for private profit.
“Privatization is a heavy cross borne by the people. They carry the burden of long-running the government’s neglect of social services. Privatization is a clear manifestation of government’s abandonment of its responsibility to the people,” Dr. Santiago concluded.
Dr. Darby E. Santiago, Convenor , Contact # 09228669191
Dr. Eleanor Jara, Convenor, Contact # 09274383847