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Putting health of the nation into government coffers

MANILA (Agencies) : A move in the congress to privatise public health services has drawn a strong reaction from a variety of community groups across The Philippines.

The National Government Hospital Corporate Restructuring Act of 2012 filed in the senate by Franklin Drilon in late March proposes opening the premises of government public hospitals for use by private enterprise.

While fastfood stores in waiting rooms may net a big income for the hospital, Fernando Hicap, from the Anakpawis Partylist Council, claims that it will not only be bad for people’s pockets, but bad for their health as well.

“Senator Drilon is fooling the people. His bill is about privatisation of public hospitals and public health so the national government can stop extending budgets to public hospitals and let administrators look for money outside government sources,” Hicap told CBCP News.

“If it is passed, Malacañang and the congress will further cut the budget for people’s health, which is a complete state of abandonment of public health,” he continued.

He added that turning over
public facilities to private conglomerates and corporations is not the way to run a public health system or to improve the health care system in the country.

“Instead of public service, the government’s priorities are directed towards the interest of foreign investors as manifested by budget cuts on public services and the government’s sheer effort to
accentuate privatisation,” a doctor, Eleanor Jara, was quoted by the bishops’ news service as saying.

“Privatisation is encouraged by the Aquino government, through the Public-Private Partnerships Programme. This is said to decrease the government’s budget spending while increasing income with the help of the investments from private corporations,” she explained.

The executive from the non-government health organisation, Council for Health and Development, pointed out that the 2011 national budget allocates only 3.2 billion pesos ($588.8 million) for the enhancement of hospital facilities under the Department of Health, while it has poured 6.1 billion pesos ($1.1 billion) into a government medical tourism project.

“In privatisation, budget cuts on government-owned hospitals will be implemented. This, along with the shares and investments of private corporations that desire profit will result in a need for hospitals to obtain more income,” she pointed out.

“In return, health care services become more expensive. The ones who will benefit most will be the foreign and domestic investors and corporations. Health services for the masses, which should be free in public health facilities, would be compromised,” Jara continued.

“Even if the government is successful in raising its funds through the Public-Private Partnerships Programme, it will be at the expense of the poor,” she concluded.

Community health is not primarily a money-making concern.