Monday, July 05, 2010

HEAD to Noynoy: “What is your health agenda?”

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
Telefax: (02) 725 4760 Email: headphil@gmail. com

Media Release
05 July 2010

Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700

What message is President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III sending by his appointment of Dr. Enrique Ona as health secretary? Perhaps the wrong one.

This concern was raised by Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) as it continued to question the controversial appointment.

“Most of what Dr. Ona has pushed for as Director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) are the same things he is articulating now as health secretary - the corporatization of government hospitals and medical tourism. Yet these are the exact opposite of what the Filipino people urgently need in terms of health care,” said Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD secretary-general.

According to Dr. Rivera, long-standing problems in health - the worsening state of public hospitals and health centers, the exodus of health professionals abroad, the lack of public funds for health services - are rooted in prevailing social inequities that are making the Filipino people suffer.

“Even Noynoy recognized this when he campaigned under a health agenda that included improved health infrastructure, benefits to government health personnel, and a national health budget that will be at least 5% of the national budget.”

“But what is Dr. Ona focusing on? The privatization of public hospitals and the opening up of the Philippine healthcare system to foreigners, even as this very healthcare system cannot even meet the most basic health needs of Filipinos.”

“The message now is: if you have money, we have health care for you; if not, sorry for you. Is this the kind of message that President Noynoy wants to deliver?”

The health group believes that the choice of health secretary, a socially sensitive post because of its direct effect on the lives of Filipinos, was not well thought-out by the Aquino administration.

“You do not have to choose the wrong if only to be different. This is the message we want to send to President Aquino,” concluded Dr. Rivera. “There is much to be done. We are hoping for change that will move forward, not backward, in terms of providing health for all.” ###

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