The promotion of patients’ rights has been a growing concern of international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and local non-government and people’s organizations in the Philippines. This concern has been triggered by two things: the paradigmatic shift in viewing health as a human right and the increasing cases of violations of patients’ rights committed by health professionals and workers, particularly in Third World countries.
It is a well-known reality that in the Philippines, as well as in most other Third World countries, a significant percentage of the population are not aware of their basic human rights, more so their rights as patients. Poverty as well as lack of education and access to information has brought about this state of ignorance. Concomitantly, the dominance of a culture of subservience and silence has persisted, particularly among the poor, when relating with people vested with authority and power like health professionals. People have been made to believe that doctors and those comprising the medical institution are all knowing and competent, and ready to act only in the best interests of the patient.