The Beginning of the End for Philippine Public Hospitals?

by Anjon Galauran


While the government boasts that the PPP aims to develop hospital facilities and operational efficiency, Gabriela raised the issue of increasing rates for hospital and other health care services and making them more inaccessible to the majority poor.


In the City of Manila alone, 6 state-run hospitals are facing additional service charges which include supplementary services for X-ray, ECG, laboratory, medicines and consultation among others. The said additional charges in medical services are in line with a local law in the city repealing its previous practice of providing the people with more accessible medical services.


City Ordinance 8331 or the Omnibus Revenue Code is now in effect and several service rates have already hiked, CT scan for example, from P2,500 it would now cost a patient in Manila a whopping P7,000 added to their hospital bills.
Tondo residents also lament the worsening health care situation in the country. One resident mourns the death of her 4 year-old son who died of dehydration without even a doctor getting to check the poor patient. The mother is jobless while her husband simply finds income in collecting garbages. Another resident says that in order to avail of hospital services one need to have at least P500, but the dwellers in Tondo barely earn below half of P500 under a day’s work. Beyond Manila, 72 hospitals are similarly facing privatization in the country with the inclusion of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC), and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) among others.


The Philippine Orthopedic Center

Under PPP, POC is pending for modernization which the state belives can be fully attained if the burden of doing so be passed on to the private corporate sector. Megawide Construction Corp. and World City Inc are among the bidders of the project. PPP website however states that only 70 beds will be alotted for indigent patients out of its 700-bed capacity. 420 beds meanwhile for PhilHealth member-patients.


PCMC on the other hand currently caters to over 80,000 out-patients and 55,000 admissions a year. Considered as the biggest tertiary-level child care center in the country, PCMC’s patients are majorly indigents amassing to 60% of its total clientele.


from PCMC FB page



Fabella Hospital in Manila has also been up for bidding for privatization in 2013. The process was only halted earlier this year because it requires approval of the investment Coordination Committee of the National Economic Development Authority since the project could cost more than P1 billion.


In Northern Luzon, the Cagayan Valley Medical Center and Baguio General Hospital and Bicol Medical Center are those among candidates for privatization. While in Visayas, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, and the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center will be privatized. In Mindanao, the CARAGA Regional Hospital and Southern Philippines Medical Center are among the pivot health centers in the south to be privatized.


With the worsening accessibility of hospitals, de Jesus asserts that the people need to take action and demand that the government be held accountable for its plans and actions that are untoward to the benefit of its own people.

“We hold President Aquino and DOH Secretary Enrique Ona for selling out the National Orthopedic Center, the Jose Fabella maternity hospital, and other specialty centers that are critical for free or cheap health care,” said De Jesus. The women’s leader also claims that what the government must do is to give ample funding not only to specific questionable programs but rather, give guaranteed funding and subsidy. With the government’s thrust towards PPP, Gabriela questioned the Aquino administration’s sincerity towards development, ramming the dawning issue of public hospital decline. ###


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