EVERY CITIZEN DESERVES A HEALTHY LIFE.
THE GOVERMENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROVIDING ITS PEOPLE WITH ACCESSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE.
WHY WE OPPOSE PRIVATIZATION OF HEALTH SERVICES?
Health is recognized as a basic human right. It is primarily the responsiblity of the government to ensure accessible and affordable healthcare for all, especially for the majority of Filipinos who are living in extreme poverty,
Privatization is government's way of shirking its responsibility to the people; and it has the gall to pass on to others (like NGOs, churches and private groups) what it does not have the political will to do. The Department of Health (DOH) should ensure and promote public health -- the people's health. Too often, the DOH instead encourages and assists private enterprises to get bigger profits at the expense of the people.
Government officials claim that privatization of health services is intended to improve the quality of care. But the real purpose is to "save money" -- to repay unjust interest on unjust loans, and to fund projects that benefit the local elite and foreign investors.
Privatization is one of the conditionalities of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).
The SAP demands currency devaluation, high interest rates, removal of trade and exchange controls, and increase of taxes (which are already disproportionately taken from the poor). It also demands cuts in government spending, especially for health, education and welfare.
IMF-World Bank demands have been the basis for government policies which push the irresponsible lease or sale of public land, natural resources, corporations, and now even hospitals -- at give-away terms to foreign investors. The IMF-World Bank tandem is also the source of Philippine laws and policies which keep wages low, deny workers' rights and benefits, and cause job retrenchment and contractualization.
The IMF-World Bank is solidly behind the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and other instruments of 'globalization' which promote export-oriented agriculture and industry, both of which encourage the export of human labor shamelessly promoted by the Philippine government as "a national investment and patriotic duty."
These policies are deepening the poverty of the people and destroying our environment and natural resources. These policies and the militarization used by the state to enforce its destructive actions are causing more disease and malnutrition than what World War II caused in the Philippines.
At the same time, the national budget allowed for health continues to get smaller. Less than 2.5 percent of the budget is spent for health, while 10 percent is spent on the military. Privatization of health services is being done to cut the health budget even more!
EFFECTS OF PRIVATIZATION
When health services are privatized, health becomes a business, and the first concern of owners is to earn profit. Costs for health are already increasing (30-40 percent just in the past four months!). Health services are increasingly being denied to those who need them most.
Privatization will also increasingly deny other basic human needs like land, shelter, food, education and life-enhancing employment opportunities to those who are the wealth and hope of our culture and country -- the workers, peasant farmers, indigenous peoples and fisherfolk -- men, women, youth and children.
The COUNCIL FOR HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT (CHD), a national organization of more than 50 community-based health programs, STRONGLY REJECTS THE GOVERNMENT'S MOVE TO PRIVATIZE HEALTH SERVICES. Privatization of health care is an abandonment of the government's responsibility to sustain the health of its people. Privatization is deepening the poverty of the people and causing unprecedented disease and malnutrition.
Privatization of health services will bring more death and disease, instead of what it promised as "health for all by the year 2000."
There is no hope with government officials who have sold the country's people and resources, or with a Department of Health that promotes business for capitalist investors.
Hope lies in the people who are aware of their rights, vigilant to protect them, and organized to work together for the common good!
Therefore, the COUNCIL FOR HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT (CHD) calls on the people to:
- REJECT ALL MOVES OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PRIVATIZE HEALTH CARE;
- SUPPORT THE STRUGGLE OF HOSPITAL WORKERS FOR ECONOMIC AND DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS;
- FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHT TO AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE HEALTH SERVICES;
- RESIST ALL ANTI-PEOPLE GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND FOREIGN DICTATES.
Statement given at the launching of the Network Opposed to Privatization (NO! to Privatization), at the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), Diliman, Quezon City, on March 13, 1998.