Friday, March 12, 2010

Hundreds of hospitals closed due to lack of health personnel

Council for Health and Development
Media Release
March 12, 2010

In the midst of the exodus of health professionals and the lack of health workers in the rural areas, the government continues to allow the illegal detention of 43 health workers in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. These health workers have chosen to dedicate their lives and careers to serve the underprivileged in most far-flung villages while they can be better-off practicing their professions in private and state-of-the art hospitals in the cities. Sadly though, the Court of Appeals decided to legalize the unlawful arrests made by the military by adhering to the Ilagan v Enrile document – a notorious Martial Law doctrine.

“Is Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo aware that while she decorates her generals involved in this unlawful arrest, 200 hospitals have shut down and 800 are partially closed because of lack of health personnel in the countryside? Is she fully aware of the role of Community Health Workers in far-flung villages that have no access to government services? Because Mrs. Arroyo is so busy exploring every nook and cranny of the law to get emergency powers, we believe she chose to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to all the injustices that her military has done to the noble health workers serving government-neglected barangays,” Council for Health and Development Executive Director Dr. Eleanor A. Jara said.

To date, majority of doctors and nurses are employed in urban centers in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Southern Tagalog. Data from the Department of Health and the National Statistics Office reveal that as of 2007, doctors number to 125,899 and nurses at 5,426 in the NCR while there are 75,213 nurses and 3,876 doctors in Region 4-A.

In a report, among the hospitals that closed were the Almagro Community Hospital in Western Samar, Tapul Municipal Hospital, Tangkil Municipal Hospital, Pangutaran District Hospital, Siasi District Hospital and Panamao District Hospital in Sulu, and the Sergio Osmena District Hospital in Zamboanga del Norte. Meanwhile, the Calbayog District Hospital, Gandara District Hospital, Basey District Hospital and Tarangnan District Hospital in Western Samar, the Malipayon District Hospital, San Jose District Hospital and San Andres District Hospital in Romblon, and the Jolo Provincial Hospital remain partially closed.

In a country that suffers from a severe brain-drain due to the migration of health professionals for greener pastures abroad, it is indeed ironic for a government to allow the persecution of health workers instead of protecting them to encourage more health professionals to serve the barrios,” Dr. Jara lamented.

In conclusion, Dr. Jara challenged the Department of Health through its Secretary to act on her capacity to seek justice for the 43 and ensure the protection of all health workers especially those serving in the country side so as to break the chilling effect that the unlawful arrests have brought to the health community.##

Reference: Dr. Eleanor A. Jara – 0917-9789297/(+632) 929-8109

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