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More than a year in office, the Duterte administration has failed to address the inequity in healthcare in the country. The Philippines remains under severe social and economic inequalities with 26% of the population living in poverty and have limited access to healthcare services despite the promise of change by the current administration.

While the Duterte Health Agenda or ACHIEVE appeared promising, but there were no substantial changes in the health policies and programs to address the basic health needs of the people especially the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors.

The reduction of health budget from P125 billion this year to P94 billion next year, or by a huge P31 billion is not only a far cry from the 5% of the Gross Domestic Product standard but it only means a low per capita health expenditure which will generally affect the delivery of healthcare services With no additional Barangay Health Stations (BHS) that were put up, thousands of people were deprived of the promotive, preventive, and curative healthcare programs. While existing BHS which are already dilapidated and neglected, lacking the needed personnel, medicines, and equipment are no longer effectively functioning and delivering the health services needed by the communities. The primary health services are still concentrated more in urban centers while rural communities have very little or no health facilities at all.

The MEDICAL ACTION GROUP, INC (MAG) strongly condemns the murder of another public health worker who was selflessly serving the country at these times when his service was needed the most.

 Dr. George Repique Jr., had just finished his hospital duty at the General Emilio Aguinaldo Memorial Hospital (GEAMH) in Trece Martires when he was attacked and killed by unidentified riding-in-tandem assailants. He is the third doctor killed in five months.

A member of the University of the Philippines – College of Medicine class of 1993, Dr. Repique worked as a community health doctor for many years before being appointed as provincial health officer of the Province of Cavite, a position he served until his untimely death.

Justice for Dr. Perlas, Protect all medical doctors

We, the Medical Action Group (MAG), health and human rights organization, is saddened by the news on the death of 31-year old Dr. Dreyfuss Bolivar Perlas, the Municipal Health Officer (MHO) of municipality of Sapad, province of Lanao del Norte, under the government’s Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) program.

According to reports, Dr. Perlas was shot dead while riding his motorbike in Barangay Maranding Annex, Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte, on Wednesday night, March 1. Based on reports, he came from a medical mission in Sapad town and was on his way home to Barangay Maranding where he was renting a house.

Dr. Perlas, who chose to serve the poor, was a native of Batan town in Aklan province. He was a biology graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Los Baños in 2007 and earned his medical degree from the West Visayas State University in Iloilo City in 2011.

We are extending our sincerest condolences to Dr. Perlas’ family. His death was a great loss to the health and medical community, and to the communities of Lanao del Norte.

MAG deplores this act of violence. We take note that injustice takes place in this country on a daily basis and the “culture of killing” has reached the health sector.

Dr. Perlas’ death is more than another number or name in the long line of medical doctors who risked and ultimately lost their lives in defending people's right to health. His death is but one chapter in the story of many medical doctors who empowered whole communities.

There has been increasing recognition that attacks on and interference with health care violates the right to health. We take note that violence and threats against health workers, along with interference with access to health care, impedes the ability of people from receiving the health services they need. Targeted attacks on health undermine and sometimes destroy health systems and infrastructure, force health workers to flee areas where they are most needed.

We call on the government to ensure that alleged perpetrator on the killing of Dr. Perlas is effectively and promptly investigated and, ensure that families of Dr. Perlas receive adequate compensation. Likewise, we urge the government to strengthen preventive measures to enhance and promote the safety and protection of all medical and health personnel particularly those in remote communities and in situations of armed conflict where majority of DTTB doctors are deployed.

 

"Edeliza Hernandez, the executive director of the Medical Action Group in the Philippines, an organization that documents cases of torture and provides treatment and rehabilitation, estimated that there were 200 political prisoners in detention centers in the country, and said that most of them had been tortured. “The government has soldiers watch us while we inspect prisoners,” she said."

 

Kindly view the full article through this link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/us/politics/trump-torture-guantanamo.html?_r=0

 

"Depriving people of proper health care for whatever reason is tantamount to torture and violates national law and the country’s international obligations, a former health secretary said.

“Health services are always available but not always accessible. Denied health services also a form of torture," Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan said at the launch of the Medical Action Group’s project, “Heal not Harm: Preventing Torture in the Philippine Health Care Setting,” which will disseminate information, document and identify areas of torture and illegal detention in the Philippine health setting.

The project is sponsored by DKA, or the Catholic Children’s Movement of Austria, Tan said, and is also intended to support the DOH’s “Guidelines for the Implementation of Section 19 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9475,” or the Anti-Torture Law."