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MANILA, Philippines -- Two organizations of health workers were not impressed by President Benigno Aquino’s pronouncements of his administration’s achievements in health, claiming he had been falsely informed.
The Health Alliance for Democracy and the Alliance of Health Workers said Aquino’s claims in his State of the Nation Address on Monday about the status of healthcare in the country were made up of “half-truths” that did not reflect the actual situation of many Filipinos.
Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD secretary general, said Aquino’s SONA was “nothing but a futile attempt at justifying his administration’s health policies that has only worsened the Filipino’s health. In order to justify budget cuts and privatization, he is resorting to half-truths and outright lies.”
Both HEAD and AHW particularly criticized Aquino’s statements about the hiring of nurses and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s coverage.
In his SONA, Aquino said 30,800 nurses had been deployed to rural areas under the RNGHeals Program. He also boasted of a dramatic increase in PhilHealth enrolment, including a No Balance Billing for indigents.
But Rivera said the nurses hired by the government under the RNHeals Program receive a salary 40 percent lower than what an entry-level nurse working in the public sector receives.
“The truth is the Aquino Administration is treating our health workers as expendable commodities in its drive to reduce its expenses and in its pursuit of privatization. Mandated benefits of health workers like hazard pay and night differential pay are not being given and even the subsistence and laundry allowance have been reduced. Instead of addressing the chronic lack of health personnel in our hospitals and communities, he engages in contractualization as we can see in the RNHeals Program,” she said.
Jossel Ebesate, AHW president, said the No Balance Billing of PhilHealth, “if ever implemented,” will only favor 5.3 million indigent families enrolled by the national government. Their PhilHealth coverage is only good for 23 cases.
“The remaining 60 percent of the population who relies on (the) public health care system (based on Dept. of Health data) and all other cases (outside of the 23 cases) would be billed accordingly and will bear the burden of increased health care cost due to the phasing out of charity beds and privatization of public hospitals. PhilHealth is also useless in areas where there is no hospital or no PhilHealth accredited hospital,” said Ebesate.