By MAKABAYANG SAMAHANG PANGKALUSUGAN — CORDILLERA PEOPLES DEMOCRATIC FRONT
With clenched fists, we salute the long suffering Filipino Health Workers, the unsung heroes as they commemorate the National Health Workers Day on the 7th of May 20l7. Makabayang Samahang Pangkalusugan-Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (MSP-CPDF) also pays tribute to all revolutionary martyrs who contributed their lives to the advancement of the national democratic revolution and serving unselfishly to the Filipino people!
Neoliberal policies takes over the health care system
Ten months after the Duterte administration ascended to the throne with the promise of change, the health situation has further deteriorated to that of a dying patient. On the first months of his administration, Duterte sent Ubial his new Secretary of Health to Cuba to observe the best practices of health care system in the country, which will be replicated in the Philippines to fulfill his wish for free health care for the Filipino people, especially the poor. Instead of following Cuba’s example of resisting privatization and establishing an integrated national health system that is strongly public and shouldered by government through our taxes, the Department of Health’s (DOH) Health Agenda follows the evil scheme hatched by its imperialist masters.
President Duterte acknowledges that social inequality breeds ill health, but the government is silent about the continuing neoliberal attacks caused by the three basic problems of the Pilipino people; Imperialism, Feudalism and Bureaucrat Capitalism the root causes of social inequality. The DOH Health Agenda blindly follows the neoliberal policies imposed by the IMF-WB, WTO-APEC-WHO. Budget cuts, fiscal autonomy, corporatization and privatization of public hospitals and an insurance led healthcare system has put to auction basic health services to the highest bidder for unprecedented profits while forcing down our throats the bitter pills of deceit and abandonment. Even the crumbs of health services sought by the masses in times of crises have been taken away. The health of the Filipino people has been totally sacrificed!
Health Secretary Ubial boasts that the “over-all strategic thrust” of the DOH is to bring key stakeholders together to improve access to health services and reduce out-of-pocket costs. “But PhilHealth and the so-called stakeholders, partnerships with private institutions, have failed to achieve this goal. Despite billions of pesos poured into PhilHealth, it accounts only to 11% of the total health expenditures, out-of-pocket spending is still high at 60%.
For 2017, the proposed budget for DOH is P92.5 billion. The health budget ranks only 6th and is only 2.8% in the proposed P3.35 trillion national budget for 2017, a far cry from the 5% mandated by the WHO. Nominally, the total budget for DOH retained hospitals may have increased: from P21.1 billion in 2016 to P24.3 billion in 2017, or a P3.2 billion increase. However, the 2017 National Expenditure Program reveals that the 72 DOH hospitals including the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, the only tertiary public hospital in Northern Luzon, suffered budget cuts in their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), used for medicine, utilities and maintenance of equipment, by more than half (51%) of P74.4 billion in 2016 to P38 billion in 2017. Similarly, three out of four of the country’s government-owned/controlled corporation (GOCC) hospitals will also suffer drastic cuts, with their combined MOOE dropping to just P1.6 billion in 2017 from the current P2.4 billion or a difference of P782.6 million. These hospitals include the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (20% cut), the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (41% cut), and the Philippine Heart Center (48% cut).
All these public hospitals cater to the poorest of the poor in various regions. Without enough funds for operations, hospitals will not be able to procure essential medicines, and other utilities needed for the day-to-day hospital services such as laboratory and diagnostic procedures. The majority poor will suffer the most as many of these hospitals will resort to new and higher fees to compensate for their decreasing operating budget.
The state of the Health Workers continue to deteriorate under Neoliberal Policies
Republic Act 10069 declares May 7 as National Health Workers Day “to give due recognition to the important role and contributions of the health workers who provide vital health services to our people and to promote their rights and welfare and enhance their sense of worth and dignity.” However, this May 7 the health workers have nothing to celebrate for. The government continues to oppress them by continuing to implement the imperialist design of amassing wealth while giving them pittance for salaries. The new administration fails to address the health workers litany of woes such as low salaries, inadequate benefits, inhumane working conditions and lack of job security by enforcing the neoliberal policies of privatization and contractualization as cost cutting cost measures. Even the subsistence and laundry allowances were diminished contrary to the provisions of the Magna Carta for Public Health workers.
The health workers remain to be overworked as vacant plantilla positions remain unfilled. There are 63,281 authorized positions in the DOH but only 40,376 have been filled. Nurse to patient ratio is 1:60 up to 80 which is contrary to the DOH prescribed 1:12 nurse to patient ratio. In the Cordillera region, BGH-MC has 432 nurses but 164 of the nurses work as job orders. In the General Services section, 89 of the workers are agency hired. All of these job contractuals are stripped of their benefits due them as health workers.
These conditions are inevitable under the neoliberal policy. The privatization of health care, low wages, lack of benefits and contractualization of health workers and nurses are neglected in favour to the imperialist corporation’s desire to gain super profit. This situation is the essence of neoliberal imposition on health. However, the history tells us that in every crisis and exploitation there is resistance.
Advance the National Democratic Revolution and Peace Talks!
The MSP-CPDF believes that the only solution to the ill health of the nation is the National Democratic Revolution and the construction of a Socialist society. The MSP-CPDF calls all health workers and nurses to contribute their skills and serve as medical officers of the New People’s Army, join the revolutionary national democratic mass organization of the health workers and professionals through the MSP-CPDF, lead the democratic demands of the health sector and organize and mobilize the broadest number of health workers.
The MSP-CPDF is exhorting the health workers to support the on-going peace negotiations talks. We laud the Duterte administration for the resumption of the long stalled peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The peace negotiations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social land Economic Reforms (CASER), and Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) are meant to address the socio-economic roots of armed conflict. The main objectives of the CASER is to advance the agrarian reform and pursue the national industrialization; advancement of the rights of the exploited, oppressed, discriminated disadvantaged sectors of society; economic sovereignty; and national patrimony and protection of the environment.
The MSP-CPDF believes that it is through this peace negotiations and the implementation of the past agreements that President Duterte can redeem his government. Duterte’s sincerity shall pave the way for the nation to free itself from the clutches of neoliberal impositions. It is only through the repudiation of the imperialist dictates that the people’s common wish of a free, comprehensive and progressive health care system shall materialize.
Join the National Democratic Revolution!
Join the New People’s Army!
Onward with the Peoples’ War till victory! # nordis.net