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15/09

National Coalition for People’s Right to Health formed

The coalition will initiate lobby work on policy reforms and legislative agenda and will launch coordinated campaign activities to push for the implementation of the various issues and concerns stated in the People’s Health Agenda.

TWHA partners, together with members of the progressive social movements, have formed the Coalition for People’s Right to Health to advance free, comprehensive and progressive health care system in the Philippines.

Led by the Council for Health and Development (CHD), the coalition brings together service oriented groups, non-government organizations, academic and religious institutions, grassroots health activists, people’s organizations and individuals who all commit to fight for the realization of the People’s Health Agenda that aims to:

  1. Provide free, comprehensive and progressive health care services for all the citizenry.
  2. Stop privatization and other anti-people, anti-health worker policies.
  3. Renationalize devolved health services.
  4. Provide an adequate health budget that is commensurate to the needs of Filipinos. Allocate at least 5% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for health in the national government budget.
  5. Establish a clear human resource development plan.
  6. Nationalize and build a pharmaceutical industry that will provide safe, accessible, affordable, essential and effective medicine.
  7. Stop and investigate all corrupt practices.
  8. Address the socio-economic and political factors affecting health, such as foreign dominance in the country’s economy, landlessness, lack of jobs, low wages, lack of food security and housing, and other social services.

The coalition was launched on August 22 and was attended by over 100 representatives from different sectors, health NGO’s, private health practitioners, a former health secretary and representatives of TWHA. The participants expressed the need for and their support to the coalition.

“With this coalition, our struggle to advance the people’s right to health will become much stronger and more resolute,” said Dr. Eleanor Jara, executive director of CHD.

The coalition will initiate lobby work on policy reforms and legislative agenda and will launch coordinated campaign activities to push for the implementation of the various issues and concerns stated in the People’s Health Agenda.

The coalition aims to end the dismal health situation in the country especially among the marginalized sectors – the peasants, workers, women and children and the youth. This situation has been aggravated by the government’s subservience to neoliberal dictates of financial institutions and transnational corporations such as the continued decrease in health budget, privatization of health care services and facilities, full mobility of health professionals to developed countries and stringent regulation of intellectual property rights in favour of big pharmaceuticals.

As a result, a large part of the population, especially children, suffers from malnutrition.

“Although economic growth has surged in recent years, chronic malnutrition means the country has more stunted children than Ethiopia or the Republic of Congo,” the Save the Children Fund recently said. (http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/filipino-children-suffer-from-chronic-malnutrition)

Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia, which are preventable and curable, continue to kill a hundred thousand Filipinos each year. In addition, 5,000 birthing mothers and 70,000 children under 5 years die each year.

On top of these persistent problems, there is an alarming increase in prevalence of a new epidemic of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic lung disease and many others.

Based on the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, seven out of ten Filipinos die without medical attention. The chronic neglect and lack of health care facilities remain unaddressed especially in rural areas. Public sanitation is inadequately addressed by the government. There is lack of potable water, no proper waste disposal, inadequate housing, congested living conditions and unsafe working conditions.

Worsening the crisis is the insufficient health workforce with nurses and other health professionals migrating to other countries for better work opportunities. Those who remain in the country suffer from low wages, inadequate benefits and labor contractualization. Health activists, on the other hand, have been under attack by state security forces for organizing and mobilizing the people to fight for their right to health.

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