���The closure of Fabella hospital, amid the privatization of several other government-run hospitals and healthcare facilities, does not bode well for the continuous hike in maternal and infant mortality rates in the country.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Progressive lawmakers of the Makabayan coalition have expressed outrage over the feared closure of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, the famed maternity hospital for the poor in the Philippines.
On May 5, Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate filed House Bill 2699 for the House Committee on Health to conduct an inquiry on the “imminent transfer and abolition of Fabella Hospital, which may result into the disruption of health services to patients in the country’s prime maternity hospital.”
Zarate said the closure is “akin to further strangulation of the country’s maternity health care system.”
Gabriela Women’s Party also said that the impending closure will further deprive tens of thousands of indigent mothers of much needed healthcare.
“The closure of Fabella hospital, amid the privatization of several other government-run hospitals and healthcare facilities, does not bode well for the continuous hike in maternal and infant mortality rates in the country,” said Arlene Brosas, Gabriela Women’s Party Metro Manila spokesperson and second nominee.
Health workers groups fear the impending closure of the hospital after its director, Dr. Esmeraldo Ilem announced to employees that they have to vacate the hospital by June 9. Hospital employees quoted Ilem to have said that the hospital did not pass ISO accreditation and that the hospital has cracks.
The Department of Health (DOH) said that a new Fabella building will be constructed within the nearby DOH compound, also in Manila.
Fabella Hospital caters to 2,000 patients a day.
Dr. Margarita Esquivel, DJFMH employees union president said they oppose the plan as there was no written proof that the hospital is indeed weak. She also said that there is also no concrete plan for the employees of the hospital.
“Clearly, the closure of Fabella hospital has been planned out without consultation with the health workers and the most important stakeholders—Fabella hospital’s indigent mothers. The case of Fabella hospital is a clear testament of Aquino government’s lie on achieving safe motherhood and adequate baby welfare,” said Brosas.
Zarate said the impending closure of the Fabella Hospital is a clear violation of the people’s the right to health and, in this case, the indigent patients who have been benefiting to Fabella’s affordable services.
“It is another painful blow to our poor people who are already suffering the brunt of our already dismal and inadequate public health care system,” Zarate said.
“Even in the very last days of his administration in office, Aquino shows that caring for the poor is not his priority,” Zarate added.
Zarate pointed out that in the past years, the Aquino administration has “allowed the further deterioration of Fabella Hospital despite the dire need of our poor pregnant mothers for free healthcare.”
Zarate said Aquino administration’s thrust is to privatize healthcare. He noted that there are 20 more major and regional hospitals and health facilities “that are up for grabs by big private businesses in the ‘guise of modernizing and improving facilities and services.’”
“Like the already discredited mantra of “daang matuwid, our people should not be deluded into believing that privatization will improve the sorry state of our healthcare system,” Zarate said.
“This policy should end with this already discredited administration. As healthcare is a basic human right, this should be public service, not business,” he added.