By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW with reports from DELIA BAGNI
BAGUIO CITY — A Cordillera health NGO hit the move of the present administration to privatize Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) branding that privatization of the BGHMC and other 25 hospitals nationwide is a condition imposed by international financial institutions on the government.“It is a condition imposed by international funding institutions (IFIs) like the IMF-World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on the Philippine government to lessen public spending so that it (government) can save for foreign debt payments and apply for new loans,” stated Community Health Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore) on a statement issued to media.
Chestcore recently held a demonstration this week at the BGHMC area to show its strong opposition to the Aquino government’s aggressive plan to corporatize BGHMC and 25 other major public hospitals nationwide.
Chestcore pointed out that House Bill 6069 by Rep. Anthony Rolando T. Golez and Senate Bill 3130 by Sen. Franklin Drilon will transform 26 public hospitals into corporations.
It explained that corporatization of public hospitals will deprive people of much-needed health services and worsen the already ill state of health of the country.
“It is a privatization scheme that will allow entry into and control of health services by the private sector for super profits,” it added in its statement, claiming that corporatization is part of PNoy’s health agenda on Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
Under the program, Department of Health (DOH)-supervised public health care facilities such as the BGHMC will be converted into government-owned-and-controlled corporations (GOCCs). Instead of having hospital directors (who are doctors) at the helm, these GOCCs shall have corporate boards that include private investors who will ensure investments and profits, added Chestcore.
Meanwhile, the Katribu Partylist said that corporatization is an abandonment of government’s responsibility to provide health care to its people, leaving them to fend for themselves when they are sick.
“Corporatization, which is actually privatization, of the BGHMC will deny the indigenous peoples of their right to health,” pointed out Katribu Cordillera spokeperson Sam Anongos.
He cited that BGHMC serves as a regional government hospital that caters to the health needs of the Cordillera indigenous peoples in at least affordable situation.
“People from the remote villages of the Cordillera come to the BGHMC for their health needs,” he added as they also urged that more budget should be alloted for government hospitals and privatization is not the solution to the health woes of the people.
Chestcore said that the BGHMC is a major hospital in the region which has been providing significant accessible health services to around 2,500 mostly poor patients per month. This does not yet include the greater number of emergency and out patients.
It cited the privatization of Benguet General Hospital (BeGH) into an “economic enterprise” since 2004 which resulted in payment for wards and higher fees for basic laboratory procedures. Because of this, many patients from this hospital have been trooping to BGHMC to avail of its more affordable rates, Chestcore added.
Chestcore enumerates the ill-effects of corporatization as follows: it will further weaken public health care system, which has been perennially lacking in facilities and personnel, because it will be run like a business; it will reduce overall access to the poor to health services, increase the number of seriously-ill people unable to get treatment , and result in more deaths from diseases; and, health workers’ benefits, job security and rights will be under attack in GOCC hospitals because with profit as main objective, it will be run with by the cheapest labor possible.
Chestcore identified the other 25 government health institutions for corporitization which are the following: Cagayan Valley Medical Center, Veterans Regional Hospital, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center, Region I Medical Center, Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center, Jose B. Lingad Memorial Medical Center, Batangas Regional Hospital, Bicol Medical Center (Naga City), Bicol Research Training and Teaching Hospital (Legaspi City), Quirino Memorial Medical Center, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Rizal Medical Center, Amang Rodriguez Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, Western Visayas Medical Center, Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Cotabato Regional and Medical Center, CARAGA Regional Hospital, Davao Regional Hospital, at Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro, Sr. Regional Training and Teaching Hospital.
On July 23, militant groups led by the Innabuyog-Gabriela and Chestcore staged a porgram infront of the BGHMC to protest the privatization of 26 public hospitals. # nordis.net