Friday, 20 September 2013

All after seeing tension within the Children's city

All after seeing tension within the Children's city

(Or the struggle for Universal Health Care over Public-Private Partnerships 
in Government-controlled medical center systems)

"I just could not understand what is going here: Isn't the PCMC government owned and sitting on government land? And does the NHA own the land where PCMC is situated and, if it does, on what authority does it own this land?
I believe the better approach here is to inventory what the national government owns and make strict rules on the proper use of these real estate properties. And don't let multiple government agencies have authorities on these lands, just one central agency is sufficient. Otherwise, these properties would disappear from being government owned."

These are the words being stated in an Inquirer commentary regarding one of the most recognized medical centers with it's property being looked upon by commercial interests. As the Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC), also known as the Children's City, had faced notices, especially those from the National Housing Authority (NHA) directing it to buy the Quezon City property it has been occupying for nearly 34 years.

As according to the reports, the property, controlled by the NHA, was priced at P1.1 billion, and the hospital felt that this demand amounted to an eviction notice. The hospital had even long been requesting the national government to donate the land or even help finance it so that the hospital would be its registered owner.
However, the former seemed to be much likely as the call from the PCMC to the government, noted that previous presidents had also donated government land to the Office of the Ombudsman and the Court of Tax Appeals, consisting of portions of the 6.3 hectares occupied by the PCMC. And because of the donations, the hospital had been reduced to 3.7 hectares.
Lately, the NHA had sold 2,500 square meters of the hospital land to the National Economic Development Authority’s Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) for over P83 million, and even gave an “ultimatum” to the hospital to avoid the expiration of the budget allocated by the national government to the PIDS for the purchase of the 2,500-sq-m land.

That somehow meant for the PCMC to struggle in order not to get evicted, especially by the government whom oftentimes afford to speak about the need for affordable healthcare yet in fact, isn't. So are the other institutions (such as Orthopedic or Quezon Institute), that had been threatened much by the policies whose reason is to cut down spending and start getting "Self Reliant" with the help of private institutions; yet, with the issues such as billion-peso pork barrel scams and others, a mockery of a priority.

Right was the words of Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio, knowing that private enterprise had becoming an orientation including those of government institutions such as health care, as she said in her call for affordable universal health care:

"Allow me to talk about the Philippines. Our latest total health expenditures as a nation is a measly 7 billion dollars, give or take. This is the total amount Filipinos spent on health care including reproductive health care. Clearly the system can be rationalized as much of our health spending is irrational. But savings from rationalization could be used towards strengthening the health care system so that it can meet a large unmet need. This amount is less then one percent of what we continue to pay the banks to pay debts incurred by politicians more concerned with their own form of wealth accumulation than with our well-being. It is small change compared to the trillions lost in the latest financial crisis. A single system of health care with minimal or no cost at point of access is entirely possible for the Philippines. Why should it be impossible for others? Why demand less?"

Well, personally, seeing PCMC being ordered to be evict than having its lot be donated from the state isn't a surprising move. Noticing that the government had been neglecting much of its obligation especially in regards to health care and even securing its property; and with reports such as PCMC, as well as earlier ones like the National Orthopedic Hospital, and even the National Center for Mental Health, and others facing evictions, if not getting commercialized by private institutions, it is pretty much obvious to show disregard in midst of bragging about health insurance to the people while 76% of nation's wealth being enjoyed by 40 richest families in the Philippines.

As according to the underground group "Patriotic Group of Medical Practitioners" (MSP), in its statement, said:

"Even the basic right for ensuring the health of the people had been one that is turned into a lucrative business of the state and its cohorts. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, known as PhilHealh, had been selling medical services in midst of rampant poverty over the people. The privatization of 26 public hospitals and entering capitalist investment through Public-Private Partnerships in certain hospitals is itself neglecting most poor Filipinos of basic right to health in order to gain much more profit both foreign and domestic capitalists."

Well, the statement from the underground somehow shared the same thoughts as certain concerned legislators do. Especially those led by Leyte representative FM Romualdez, with their resolution, made specifically in regards to the PCMC, said:

“Pursuant to the constitutional policies of the 1987 Constitution of recognizing the vital role of the youth in nation-building, protecting and promoting the right to health of the people as well as adopting an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development which shall endeavor to make health available to all the people at affordable cost wherein the needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children shall be prioritized, the State should donate the land that the hospital presently occupies to the PCMC in order that it can fully fulfill its objectives without the threat of eviction by the NHA...”

And since FM Romualdez and his cohorts whom calling for a resolution having the property be given to the Children's city, then why not insist the government give a bigger chunk of the national budget to the state-controlled medical center system than just getting contented in private aid? Some, if not most of these establishments are even donning specialized Health Care, such as PCMC being mandated to provide pediatric care and training programs, and a hub for clinical research.

And since the government been desperately trying to improve existing health facilities and at the same time handing most to the private sector in a guise of partnerships, the latter is pretty much obvious that they are looking after the lot not just on the establishment itself and its expertise, that also meant sacrificing those who often going on queues for medical appointments or even confine and waiting to die simply because of negligence (such as those from Quezon Institute, wherein some patients, if not lucky to be given support such as from a private foundation, are there just to die).
And if these issues continue to persist, then what's next? The Heart center? Lung? National Kidney and Transplant Institute? Or even the entire Philippine General Hospital after one of its buildings used by a private medical institution? The issue on Philippine Children's Medical Center, as well as earlier ones like the National Orthopedic Hospital and the Quezon Institute, is a pretty much serious issue, mentioning about property as well as improving health facilities, that nowadays much likely to fell on private hands in a guise of Public-Private Partnerships with a state rather choosing to disregard securing people's health;

-not to mention that they kept on bragging its own health insurance policies such as distributing PhilHealth cards.