People’s Health, Least in GMA’s Priorities

Nisperos noted that the PhilHealth coverage has been bloated to 80 percent during the election period in 2006. In the past years, the coverage is only 61 percent. He added that the PhilHealth does not include outpatient services.

Independent surveys conducted by the KBK also showed that in Metro Manila’s seven government hospitals, seven in every ten poor families are not members of PhilHealth.

Another study commissioned by the European Commission regarding PhilHealth coverage in Mindanao showed that only ten percent of the poor in Tawi-Tawi, 12 percent in Davao Oriental and 15 percent in Zamboanga del Norte and Maguindanao are covered by PhilHealth.

In a press conference, July 25, Dr. Eleanor Jara¸ CHD executive director, criticized the Botika ng Barangay program of the Arroyo government. She said, “There is no truth in government’s claim that the poor benefits from this program.”

Jara cited as an example the Botika ng Barangay in Payatas. She said that residents complained that the pharmacy is empty.

She also slammed the profiteering of the government from the said program. She revealed that while mefenamic acid costs P11 ($0.248) in some branches of the Botika ng Barangay, the actual cost of the said medicine, which is imported from India or Pakistan is only two pesos ($0.045).

Policies

The Arroyo government has continued the implementation of the Health Sector Reform Agenda (HSRA) through the Fourmula One Program. The HSRA was formulated in 1999 and ended in 2005.

The CHD maintained that the HSRA “laid down the conditions where the people have to foot for all their health needs and expenditures.”

The HSRA paved the way for the privatization of specialty hospitals. The CHD said, “In the guise of corporatization, the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute at Philippine Children’s Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center and the Quirino Memorial Medical Center were corporatized and provided autonomy in management and financial aspects.”

Mechanisms were implemented to collect and earn more revenues, including increasing the number of pay wards while reducing the number of beds for charity and allowing the DoH by virtue of Executive Order 197 to increase fees in public hospitals up to 20 percent.

The CHD further stressed, “The aspects of health reforms are characterized by increasing the people’s out-of-pocket spending for health and decreasing funds and responsibility of the government for people’s health.”

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