Privatization of gov’t hospitals opposed

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Thursday, March 21, 2013


A CITIZEN’S group flocked to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) Wednesday afternoon to protest the government’s plan to privatize public hospitals across the country. The protest here is part of the nationwide simultaneous action.

The Network Opposed to Privatization (NOP) in Northern Mindanao region said they protest the plan to the wholesale privatization scheme by turning state social institutions, such as public hospitals and state universities and colleges, into private businesses accessible only to a few.

NOP, which is composed of at least 30 health and civic organizations across the country, is protesting against House Bill 6069 that was filed in March 2012 and authored by Bacolod City Rep. Anthony Golez Jr. Senator Franklin Drilon filed its Senate version – Bill 3130.

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Wildon Barros of Makabayan Coalition said that at the onset, “the reality of inaccessible health care, education, food takes precedence over everything else in this game of survival the poor are forced to play.”

“Because of the decreasing family income, the budget for health and education becomes the family’s least priority, and this point toward a most inhumane kind of government system,” Barros said.

The bill says there are 26 government hospitals up for privatization including NMMC and six other medical facilities in Mindanao.

Barros lamented that “the present administration of President Benigno Aquino III removes us of our basic right to accessible health care which we have paid through enormous, burdening and sometimes even questionable taxes.”

“That is the contention of the controversial legislations,” Barros added.

Lunhaw Vargas, of Kabataan Northern Mindanao, said that the NMMC has served for decades as sanctuary for the poor people in the region who have no access to health services.

NOP cited recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) that governments allocate budgets for health equivalent to at least five percent of its GDP.

“For the current year 2013, the government allocated P42.76 billion ($994 million) while it should have allocated P487 billion (P11 billion), if it would follow the recommendation of the WHO,” Barros said.

“This is not the kind of health care the Filipino people deserve. Dying patient will soon flood the gates of NMMC and other hospitals. Worse, many will die untreated because they could not afford to pay even its initial deposit requirement,” he added.

For Gerry Pagara and his wife Jeniffer, their stay at the NMMC have been quite difficult.

Jeniffer has given birth to a boy prematurely on March 9. She has been discharged by the hospital but their son is still in the incubator undergoing observation.

Gerry, a farmer who’s also working in-between jobs, said he would support the call against the privatization. The couple has been sleeping under the stars at night just outside the NMMC because they have nowhere to stay in the city.

For another resident who wished not to be named said that it’s been a long time that they heard the NMMC would be privatized but they would not support it.

“But until it is privatized, I will not believe the government would do so,” he said. (Correspondent Bobby Lagsa)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 21, 2013.

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