More protests set as Fabella Hospital closure nears

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“Clients and health workers are uniting to call on the DOH to desist from putting into danger the situation of our mothers, because this move will surely increase maternal death rates in the Philippines.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — “Save Fabella hospital.”

This is the call of women’s group Gabriela as the impending closure of Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital nears on June 9.

On International Day of Action for Women’s Health, the women group again added their voice to the growing clamor to save Fabella hospital from being closed down, on May 27, Friday.

“Clients and health workers are uniting to call on the DOH to desist from putting into danger the situation of our mothers, because this move will surely increase maternal death rates in the Philippines. If the government succeeds in evicting Fabella, its health workers will also lose their job security,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus.

International Day of Action for Women’s Health is commemorated across the world every May 28th.
It was in 1987 when the global day of protest was declared by women’s health activists. It intends to draw attention to the failure of authorities in all countries to provide comprehensive care for women.

The group said that in line with this principle, they have been staging protests annually against the privatization programs of government which results to the selling of public hospitals, deregulating the cost of health care and making it unaffordable to the poor majority.

De Jesus urged the DOH to show stakeholders the documents that will prove that Fabella hospital’s structure is indeed in dangerous condition.

“Unless it can show proof, the government must listen to the demands of health workers and mothers for on-site improvement to prevent the disruption of services that only Fabella can give, especially for complicated and high-risk pregnancies,” De Jesus added.

De Jesus said that she will file resolutions and budget studies to save Fabella hospital when Congress reopens under the incoming Duterte administration.

Various health groups continued to hold picket in front of the 96-year old hospital.

Robert Mendoza, president of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), the DOH and the Fabella management stand firm that the hospital’s structure is not safe.

However, Mendoza said the Manila City Engineers’ Office which conducts annual inspection to the hospital has declared that the hospital has no structural defect. ESCA Construction, a company with construction expertise also made an analysis and declared that four out of eight buildings of the hospital needed strengthening to withstand earthquakes, but there is no need to abandon the hospital. This is also backed by the Department of Public Highways (DPWH) position to retrofit or change the structure.

“It is clear that the DOH and the hospital management’s reason to vacate immediately on June 9 is the Home Guaranty Corporation’s (HGC) demand dated September 4, 2015,” said Mendoza. He added that the HGC has threatened to “take legal action” against the hospital management.

“The mandate of the HGC, which is under the Office of the President is to market and sell the area for commercialization,” Mendoza said.

No new hospital

Health Secretary Janette Garin said a new and bigger hospital will be constructed in the DOH compound in Rizal Avenue, some 1.3 kilometers away from the current site of Fabella hospital on Lope De Vega street in Manila. She also denied in a report that the construction of the new hospital is for privatization.

But the AHW said there is no existing hospital at the DOH compound. “What they are proposing is to put all the 1,300 employees and patients in a 150-bed capacity at the Philippine Blood Center in Quezon City by June 9,” said Mendoza.

Mendoza also said that the proposed Fabella Hospital at the DOH Compound is under public-private-partnership.

“This means that the private partner of the DOH will be the one to dictate the operation of the hospital, which means all services will be expensive. Poor mothers can no longer avail free hospital services,” Mendoza said.

“It is not just transfer; it is an abolition of the Fabella hospital. Secretary Garin’s claims about a new Fabella hospital that can accommodate all the patients and health workers in the existing hospital is dubious,” Medoza added.

Mendoza said they will hold more protests as the closure deadline nears on June 9.
He also called on the people and other medical and health professionals to show their concern on the plight of Fabella hospital.

“We have to band together, so as not to let big business take over our health services,” Mendoza said. ()

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