MANILA – As the World Health Organization (WHO) marks World Health Day on April 7, progressive health workers and professionals link worsening poverty and lack of social services to the growing number of people with depression.
The theme for World Health Day 2017 is “Depression: Let’s talk.”
Health Alliance for Democracy (Head) secretary general Dr. Joseph Carabeo said neoliberal policies in the Philippines such as privatization and corporatization of government hospitals have denied poor Filipinos access to health services which can have psychological effects, such as depression.
Progressive health groups under the International League of People’s Struggle–Health Commission, People’s Health Movement–Southeast Asia, and the Coalition for People’s Right to Health trooped to the WHO office to commemorate the occasion.
“We collectively bring attention to the public and the policy holders, both global and local, the various issues that undermine the attainment of the people’s right to health,” said Carabeo.
“In a nutshell, neoliberalism seeks to open up basic social services such as health to the market for profit, while the government forces down our throats the policies that permit this desecration of social services,” he said.
Carabeo said the WHO acknowledges social inequality and the importance of social and physical determinants in achieving mental health, which include access to health resources, job security, public safety, and shelter among others. However, he said it is mum on continuous “neoliberal attacks and imperialist impositions which threaten and worsen these very determinants.”
The WHO said depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. It estimates that there are more than 300 million people living with depression, a marked 18 percent increase between years 2005 and 2015.
Carabeo called on the Duterte administration and the Department of Health to serve the Filipino people by ensuring their access to public health services and not heed business interests.
“The World Health Organization on the other hand must take further steps to press governments to pursue policies on the economic and political levels that promote mental health instead of undermining it. Neoliberal attacks on health in the Philippines must stop,” said Carabeo.