April 7, 2022
National CSO body Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) urged election hopefuls to push for a “people-centered” and “planet-friendly” public health system on the celebration of World Health Day.
As Filipinos see the hope of living normally as COVID-19 cases plummet, CPDG and other civic groups highlight the need to learn from the crisis brought by the pandemic and assert a systemic overhaul of the current healthcare system.
CPDG spokesperson Liza Maza said that the “new normal” should entail increased public funding for healthcare services and ensuring that its planning and implementation cut across areas of climate action, environmental protection, gender and development, and to focus on marginalized groups.
Maza emphasized that the government “seems to not have learned from the lessons of COVID-19” which can be seen in the government’s priorities in the 2022 national budget. To note, the Department of Health (DOH) only got a measly PHP 183.37 billion compared to the Department of National Defense’s PHP 220.9 billion and the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) whopping PHP 786.6 billion.
“We have seen, felt, and experienced how government neglect of people’s rights worsened the situation that we’re in. Thus, we should urge candidates to veer away from this framework and adopt one that takes care of the people, especially those who are in the margins, and addresses the planetary crisis that aggravated the pandemic and its effects”, Maza remarked.
Since the pandemic first struck, civil society and people’s organizations have been calling for a health-centered response and rejected the military-led paradigm which resulted in the neglect and disrespect of people’s rights.
Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), Council for Health and Development (CHD), and other medical groups advocating for people’s right to health observed this year’s World Health Day by holding a protest at the World Health Organization Philippines Office and calling for “free comprehensive national health care system”.
Dr. Jamie Dasmariñas, a community physician from CHD lamented that after two years into the pandemic, mass testing is still inaccessible to the general public and contact-tracing is still lagging. CHD and HEAD also hit the anomalies of DOH and PhilHealth that were exposed last year vis-a-vis the incapacity of public hospitals to attend to patients and the meager benefits for healthcare frontliners.
“The 9th of May gives us an opportunity to advance our programs and demands to our future leaders. Civil society needs to strive to be heard, especially in amplifying the voices from the grassroots and the margins. Let us all continue to demand transformative and sustainable change in the health sector that will cater to the needs of the people and address the multi-faceted crisis our country is facing” Maza ended. #