Wednesday, January 22, 2014

PNoy and Philhealth: Indurate to the people’s plight

Manila, Philippines -- Kilos Bayan Para sa Kalusugan (KBK), an organization of community health advocates, slammed the Aquino government anew for backing the premium increase of Philhealth amid effects of disasters and continuous increases in taxes, fuel, electricity and rice prices. Most prominent of which are the P4 per kilowatt hour increase of Meralco and the P1 per kilo increase in the price of commercial rice.

Calling the Aquino government “indurate to the plight of the Filipino people,” Albert Pascual, KBK spokesperson said no amount of explanation can justify the increase posed by Philhealth amid rising cost of basic commodities and abject poverty.

Philhealth monthly premiums will increase from P175 to P200 for employed members while self-employed members’ contributions will increase from P150 to P200 effective January 2014.

Pascual said the Filipino people has lost confidence in Philhealth because “it merely serves as a milking cow” of corrupt officials.

He argued how Philhealth executives could conscribe the new increase following the highly polemic P1.65 billion worth of allowances the agency granted to its board members, executives and contractors in 2012. “Philhealth’s argument that their bonuses are legal is unacceptable in the eyes of a hungry family or a sick person who cannot have himself treated in a hospital because he does not have the money to do so,” Pascual lamented.

As public officials, they [Philhealth] should have been sensitive enough to the plight of the entire nation than to gratify themselves of fat paychecks and bonuses. Instead of justifying a scrofulous act and wasting millions of members’ funds for full page ads in newspapers, those officials should return the money and let it be used for direct health services in public facilities,” he explained.

On top of its own income made up largely by member premiums and local government counterparts, Philhealth brought home the largest chunk of government subsidy that amounted to P11.97 billion or a third of the P35.4 billion total spending for subsidies.

Philhealth is not the answer to attaining access to health services because health services and facilities in majority of Philippine public hospitals are very limited and mostly unavailable,” he said. Hence, so-called Philhealth benefits “become useless,” Pascual added.

He noted that in its Financial Statement dated September 2013, Philhealth reported a benefit payment of P10.871 billion to the private sector and P5.564 to the government sector. Pascual explained that the notable difference simply demonstrates how Philhealth is more maximized in private hospitals than government-run health facilities where majority of poor people go.

This goes to show that Philhealth is useless and the government should just channel these funds to public hospitals and other state-run health facilities in the country,” Pascual shared.

Furthermore, KBK believes that through Philhealth, the government places the “burden of expenses to health care among people who hardly make enough to provide for their family’s needs.”

Pascual asserted that Philhealth is not the answer to the lack of access to health services and maintained the agency should instead be abolished. ##

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

DOH Fails to Eradicate Measles, Turns to Victim-Blaming for Outbreak

DOH should not be too quick to blame the victims and should own up to its own failure in its measles eradication program.” This is the strong reaction of Albert Pascual, spokesperson of Kilos Bayan Para sa Kalusugan, to the statement of DOH regarding the recent “measles outbreak” in the country.

The Department of Health blamed the migration of people from typhoon ravaged areas, limited access to health services in poor areas and the reluctance of parents in vaccinating their children to the recent outbreak. Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag stated that measles cases are on the rise due to people missing their vaccination during their eligible years.

According to Pascual, the DOH was not able to meet its target of eradicating measles in 2008- 10 years after "Ligtas Tigdas" measles immunization program was launched. Measles cases in the Philippines have risen to 1,724 cases with 21 deaths for 2013.

In the National Capital Region (NCR) the steep increase of cases, reaching over 600%, prodded for the announcement of outbreaks in Manila, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Taguig and Valenzuela. The NCR has the highest number of cases at 744. This is followed by Southern Luzon with 436 and Western Visayas with 282 cases. Majority of those afflicted are children below the age of 5. Eighty- eight percent of these had no history of previous measles vaccination.

The failure of the measles eradication program is but a reflection of the glaring disconnect between national health programs and the actual health situation. The program only relied on the Filipino’s compliance to vaccinations. The outbreak shows how the DOH has failed to connect how the socio-political environment affects the health of the nation. Failure to get vaccinated is not solely because patients or their parents choose not to. Failure to get vaccinated may also be because of the inaccessibility of health services and general lack of health knowledge,” Pascual shared.

Poverty increases the susceptibility of the ordinary Filipino to these kinds of diseases. Malnutrition, for example, exacerbates the disease’s effect on the body, while unaffordable health care and medicines make it difficult for patients to recover from it.

Long term solutions can only be attained once these factors are taken into consideration during the formulation of programs. “It’s frustrating that the DOH cannot man up to admit its mistake and would rather blame the patients for its failures” Pascual ended. ##

DOH Bigo sa Pagwawakas ng Tigdas, Sinisisi ang mga Biktima sa Pagsiklab Nito

Hindi dapat sisihin ng DOH ang mga biktima ng tigdas at sa halip ay kilalanin ang kabiguan nito sa pagpapatupad ng programa upang wakasan ang tigdas.” Ito ang matinding reaksyon ni Albert Pascual, tagapagsalita ng Kilos Bayan Para sa Kalusugan, sa pahayag ng DOH ukol sa kamakailang paglaganap ng tigdas sa bansa.

Isinisisi ng Kagawaran ng Kalusugan ang paglaganap ng tidgdas sa paglikas ng mga nasalanta ng bagyo, limitadong serbisyong pangkalusugan sa mga atrasadong lugar at hindi pagbabakuna ng mga magulang sa kanilang mga anak. Sang-ayon kay Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag, ang pagtaas ng numero ng mga nagkasakit ng tigdas ay dahil sa pagmintis ng mga taong magpabakuna noong mga taong dapat sila ay nabakunahan.

Ayon kay Pascual, hindi naabot ng DOH ang target at layunin nitong na wakasan ang tikdas sa taong 2008- sampung taon mula noong ipatupad ang programang "Ligtas Tigdas". Ang mga kaso ng tikdas ay umakyat ng 1,724 noong 2013, kung saan 21 tao ang namatay.

Sa Metro Manila, ang 600% biglang pagtaas ng bilang ng mga kaso ng tigdas ay nagtulak upang magpahayag ng “outbreak” ng tigdas sa Maynila, Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Taguig at Valenzuela. Ang Metro Manila ang may pinakamataas na bilang ng kaso na umaabot ng 744. Ito ay sinusundan ng Southern Luzon na may 436 and Western Visayas na may 282 na kaso. Kalakhan ng mga biktima ay mga batang may edad na mas mababa pa sa 5 taon. Umaabot ng 88% ng mga ito ang walang kasaysayan ng pagbabakuna ng tigdas.

“Ang kabiguan ng programa para wakasan ang tigdas ay isang napakalinaw na repleksyon lamang kung gaano kahiwalay ang mga programang pangkalusugan sa kasalukuyang sitwasyong pangkalusugan. Ang programa ay umasa lamang sa pagtalima ng mga Pilipino sa pagbabakuna. Ang muling paglaganap ng tigdas ay nagpapakita ng kabiguan ng DOH na mahigpit na iugnay ang epekto ng panlipunan at pulitikal na kalagayan ng bansa sa kalusugan ng mamamayan. Ang hindi pagbabakuna ay hindi lamang dahil ayaw ng pasyente o ng kanilang mga magulang. Ang hindi pagbabakuna at maari ring dahil sa limitadong serbisyong pangkalusugan at kakulangan ng kaalaman sa kalusugan,” ukol ni Pascual.

Higit na pinapalala ng kahirapan ang mabilis na pagkalat at pagkahawa ng mamamayan sa ganitong mga uri ng karamdaman. Ang malnutrisyon, halimbawa, ay lalong nagpapalala sa epekto ng sakit sa katawan habang ang napakamahal na serbisyong pangkalusugan ay nagpapahirap naman sa paggaling ng mga pasyente.

Ang pangmatagalang solusyon ay makakamit lamang kung ang panlipunang kalagayan ng bansa ay mahipit na naisaalang-alang sa pormulasyon at pagpapatupad ng programa laban sa tigdas. “Nakakagalit na hindi magawang aminin ng DOH ang kabiguan ng programa nito at sa halip ay ibunton pa ang sisi sa mga biktima nito” dagdag ni Pascual. ##