Save Fabella Hospital!
The impending closure of Fabella Hospital reeks of privatization scheme of the current government as the progressive mass movements intensify their protest against such move.
Strong mass actions continue to intensify as health activists, progressive organizations and people from the urban poor communities are up in arms over the government’s move to close Fabella Hospital to make way for the development of the property into an urban housing and commercial area.
TWHA partners Council for Health and Development (CHD) and Gabriela have been at the forefront of the Save Fabella Hospital Movement, a coalition of health workers, patients, communities, students and health advocates that opposes the Department of Health (DOH)’s move to abolish said hospital.
The Fabella Hospital is a maternal and newborn tertiary hospital where mostly poor mothers from Metro Manila and nearby provinces come to give birth because of its affordable cost. The abolition is set to displace its ordinary employees as well as an average of 1,000 patients per day.
Dubbed as “baby factory”, the hospital is considered as the world’s busiest maternity hospital as it handles an average of 70-80 deliveries per day.
Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the hospital as a role model of the World Health Organization-Western Pacific Region Office for its essential newborn care programs, which have been proven to reduce infant morbidity and mortality.
Last June 8, members of the coalition barricaded the gates of the hospital to prevent the pull out of its equipment. This was prompted by the announcement of the hospital director last April that employees and patients should vacate the hospital compound by said date. The barricade was just one of the series of mass mobilizations staged by the coalition to bring the issue to public attention and gather more forces to stop the closure of the hospital.
The DOH cited the hospital’s deteriorating condition as the reason for its closure. DOH Secretary Janette Garin explained that the hospital will only be relocated to the DOH compound some 1.3 km away from the current hospital site. Meantime, patients and medical operations are reportedly going to be transferred to the Philippine Lung Center of the Philippines which only have a 50-100 bed capacity. Employees, meanwhile, will be deployed to other public hospitals until Fabella hospital reopens in 2017 at its new location.
The coalition however refuted Garin’s statement saying that there is no truth to the claim that the current Fabella building is “structurally unsound”, and that the real reason behind the closure is the demand of the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC), which owns the land, to vacate the compound.
Based on the information obtained by the coalition, HGC has to sell the property to recover the government’s financial exposure in the failed urban renewal project. HGC is a government-owned and controlled corporation that encourages financial institutions to lend to individual home buyers and housing developers by extending guaranty lines to lenders. Its clients include banks, building and loan associations, investment houses, trust companies, insurance companies, lending institutions, cooperatives, microfinance entities and housing developers.
“The main issue here is the sale of the land where Fabella Hospital currently stands. Last September 4, 2015, DOH Secretary Jannette Garin received orders from the HGC to vacate the property since it will be sold. Just like the case of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, the 8.42-hectare land is prime property and tempting in the eyes of profit-oriented businessmen.” said Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, executive director of CHD.
“In a country where maternal deaths have soared as high as 221 per 100,000 population despite a target of 52 per one hundred thousand in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, only 42% of barangays have health centers, and amid the No Home Birthing Policy, how logical is it for the Aquino government and Secretary Garin to allow the abolition of DJFMH which caters to the poorest of the poor? Where then will pregnant mothers and women, with not a single centavo to spare, go to?” she added.
Gabriela meanwhile slammed President Aquino’s policies regarding social services which, it said, are geared toward privatization.
“While the DOH pushes the no home-birthing policy to force mothers to give birth in maternity hospitals, it plans to close down Fabella. Mothers will have no choice but to go to private hospitals or lying-in clinics. The government has neglected Fabella Hospital because of its plan to privatize government hospitals,” said Misty Lorin, deputy secretary general of Gabriela.