December 4, 2010
Health rights told Aquino: Universal Health Care is achievable
“Promoting and protecting health is a basic human right and essential to human welfare. However, from one administration to another, the same issues and deficiencies remain in the list that has plagued the health care situation in the country,” the Medical Action Group said.
In a statement today during its 28th Anniversary, the Medical Action Group (MAG) emphasized that Universal Health Care which is one of the centerpiece programs of the Aquino administration is achievable provided that key health care issues like the health care inequities, failed public health care financing, the continuous exodus of health care professionals and weak health regulation need to be addressed and resolved in attaining Universal Health Care for all Filipinos.
MAG stated that “while every Filipino is entitled to health care as provided by the Constitution, it is regarded more as a privilege, as poverty incidence and social widens. This has made the majority of the Filipinos to rely on the private sector for their health care needs thus making these services more of a commodity rather than entitlement.”
“Universal Health Care is the goal that all Filipinos have access to needed health services and do not suffer hardship paying for it as majority of the poor when an illness striking any of its members is considered as a tragedy,” MAG lamented.
The country’s deteriorating health care situation is urgent not just for the poor themselves but for all Filipinos whose general welfare depends on the good health of all. Radical changes in various arenas of the health care sector are imperative in order to reverse these trends.
MAG further said that “it is evident the system for health regulations has been chronically weak, ineffective and has not been used as an effective policy instrument and out-of-pocket payments for health care services are increasing in the country. This practice is debilitating to the majority of Filipinos who have no pockets to begin with.”
Hence it will be impossible to achieve Universal Health Care without greater and more effective investment in health systems and services. Beyond these, central to attaining Universal Health Care are reforms carefully designed for the benefit of the poor majority.
“The Aquino government needs to raise sufficient funds for health to address one of the obstacles to universal health care coverage of all Filipinos not by imposing new taxes but by becoming true to his campaign slogan “Tanggalin ang tiwali, Itama ang mali; Laban na tapat, Laban ng lahat,” MAG stressed.
Good governance is one of the keys to addressing our health care problems because this is an area of concern that involves financial resources. If you plug holes in anomalous projects and corruption, you will have money for health care.
In 1995, the National Health Insurance Law, which established the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), called for health insurance for all Filipinos by 2010. The government however must admit that PhilHealth fall short, as national health insurance barely protects 38 percent of all Filipinos as noted in the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey.