TWHA partners hold protests against privatization
TWHA Philippine partners held protests to condemn privatization of health care services
Marking the International Day of Action for Women's Health on May 28, members of Gabriela chapters in the cities of Caloocan and Valenzuela held a picket outside Tala Hospital, a government hospital, to express their strong objection to the ongoing privatization of the hospital's various health services.
They were joined by members of Bantay Kalusugan, a coalition of organizations against privatization of public health services.
Gert Ranjo-Libang, Vice Chairperson of Gabriela, said that privatization runs counter to the Reproductive Health law enacted under President Benigno Aquino's administration. Reproductive health care will remain mere lip service as long as privatization of health care remains as a national policy, she added.
Libang said that Tala Hospital has been known to “detain” patients who are unable to pay fully their hospital bills. Many cases of 'hospital detention' involved poor women who gave birth at the hospital but could not pay the bills. This is after the hospital's management issued a memorandum to charge fees for childbirth and other related services and to prohibit patients from seeking discount from the social welfare desk of the hospital. She stressed that there is a law prohibiting the detention of patients in hospitals and medical clinics on grounds of nonpayment of hospital bills in part or in full.
Gabriela called on hospital's management that instead of denying the poor of the hospital's basic services, they should offer the following services: free consultation at the Out-patient Department and Emergency Room; lower fees for laboratory and medicines; and setting up of facilities for a blood bank and morgue inside the hospital.
Earlier, Council for Health and Development joined hundreds of health workers and professionals in a protest against privatization of health care services to commemorate National Health Workers' Day on May 7.
They condemned the current administration for abandoning its obligation to provide basic health care services to the poor with the privatization of major government hospitals such as the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC), and for neglecting health care providers.
TWHA Philippine partners (CHD, Gabriela, Advocates, Ibon) have been active and leading the social movements here in upholding the people's right to health amidst the government’s attempt to privatize health care system as part of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, the centerpiece of Aquino administration's development plan.
They asserted that the privatization of health care services will only benefit private corporations and will condemn the poor majority to bear the high costs of health care services. But besides leading protest actions, the partners continue to strengthen community-based health programs as alternative models to challenge government's privatization policy.