Saturday, August 03, 2013

Health Workers to DOH: You will find the poor in public hospitals, not at the ivory tower of profit-driven health care


We from the Alliance of Health Workers are alarmed at the news article titled "DOH: where are the poor?" (PDI, 8/1/2013).

It is incomprehensible that the DOH "could not locate the addresses of the poor in order to deliver their PhilHealth cards..." while the government is proposing P35B for the premium of PhilHealth sponsored members for 2014, a whooping 180% increase from P12.6B allotted in 2013.

The P35 million subsidy targets only the “selected poorest of the poor” by the government’s standard, or those earning below the P52 daily or Php7,821 monthly poverty threshold for a family of five (NSCB, April 2013). This practically leaves all other poor Filipinos. By IBON Databank estimates, poor Filipinos would number some 38-68 million (IBON, July 2013) or 41-73% of the 92 million estimated population in 2012, way above the 26.8 million poor Filipinos by NSCB standard. 

The proposed P35B for PhilHealth subsidy is more than three times the total budget allotment for the 70 DOH-retained hospitals in 2013. Instead of looking for the “poor” through “mapping” or any other complicated methodologies the government could just put this huge amount to the severely underfunded government hospitals, health units and stations, where poor patients go for treatment.  This could make a big difference in the availability of medicines, supplies and equipment badly needed by the poor patients.

The poor are really not difficult to find, if the government and DOH would only go beyond their showcase of private investors-propelled "improvement" of public hospitals and facilities through privatization. If only Secretary Ona and the Aquino administration would go down to the communities and public hospitals and health facilities, and see and feel for themselves the actual situation, they would not only see the poor, they would also realize how irrelevant and how dangerous their health privatization programs are to the health and lives of the poor Filipinos.


Mr..Jossel I. Ebesate, RN
National President
Alliance of Health Workers

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