Health groups give ‘kalabasa’ award to Aquino

(Photo courtesy of AHW/Bulatlat.com)
(Photo courtesy of AHW/Bulatlat.com)

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“Its health agenda document, like that of past administrations…is all rhetorics of accessibility and quality health care for the poor, while in reality, the people are left miserable and dying with inadequate health care.”

MANILA – Health workers trooped to the Department of Health on Monday, Aug. 10 and slammed what they call as a “deceitful” State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Aquino.

They gave a “kalabasa” (squash) award – synonymous to a grade of zero — to Aquino for his neglect and failure to improve the Filipino people’s health condition. Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) President Robert Mendoza said that while Aquino blames the past administration’s negligence of the health sector, his administration’s health policies such as Universal Health Care program is no different from the past administration’s FOURmula One and Health Sector Reform Agenda (HSRA).

He said, it is essentially the same privatization of public health care and budget cuts for services and personnel. One of the specialized government hospitals, the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital is the pilot project of the Public-Private Partnership program of the Aquino government.

“Its health agenda document, like the past administrations, from President Ferdinand Marcos to President Gloria Arroyo, is all rhetorics of accessibility and quality health care for the poor, while in reality, the people are left miserable and dying with inadequate health care,” said Mendoza.

The group also criticized the meagre spending to direct health services. Mendoza said the Aquino government chooses to allot 43 percent of the 2015 budget of DOH to PhilHealth while allotting only 16 percent to direct health services through DOH hospitals.

(Photo courtesy of AHW/Bulatlat.com)
(Photo courtesy of AHW/Bulatlat.com)

The group also decried that under Aquino’s government, the health workers are “unhealthy and
uncared for.” Health workers complain of severe understaffing which result to longer working hours.

“During the Aquino administration, we have seen the historical increased number of contractuals who receive very low wages, without security of tenure, without or very few benefits but with huge workload,” said Benjamin Santos, AHW secretary general.

(Photo courtesy of AHW/Bulatlat.com)
(Photo courtesy of AHW/Bulatlat.com)

Mendoza said health workers are enraged that the Aquino government, which claims to be following the “daang matuwid” (righteous path), not only ignores the value of health workers who render health care for the people, but also blatantly violates their rights to just compensation and humane working conditions.

They vow to continue the struggle and call for the banning of contractualization, to regularize contractual workers, create more plantilla positions in government hospitals, increase budget for health services, push for the P16,000 ($349.48) national minimum wage.

Photos courtesy of Alliance of Health Workers
Texts by Anne Marxze D. Umil
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