Commercialization of public health services feared

Feb. 22, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House have expressed deep concern on the commercialization of the public health services of the government with the passage of the Universal Health Care Act.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, February 20 signed the law that would provide health care coverage to all Filipinos. The law will make all Filipinos automatically enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program or NHIP of the government.

But for the members of Makabayan bloc, the enactment of the Universal Health Care Act will not give assurance that Filipinos will truly avail health services from the government, citing some loopholes into the measure.

Bayan Muna party-list representative Carlos Isagani Zarate said they voted against the measure when it was passed in the lower House as they fear the government will commercialize the health services in the country by allowing private facilities to dominate the health care system.

“We voted no to the Universal Health Care when subjected for voting in the lower house. For us, the budget for health services must be channeled directly to public hospitals and other health facilities and programs of the government,” Zarate told Davao Today in a phone interview on Friday.

When funds are directed to the government health facilities and programs, the Filipino people are assured that they can avail of health services, Zarate added.

He also cited the long-standing problems faced by government hospitals and other public health institutions, to include the lack of doctors and health personnel.

Zarate said enough funds must be allocated to the health sector of the government to hire more health personnel for hospitals and other health facilities.

“The government must fund its health care system and services directly,” he emphasized.

Zarate feared not all Filipinos will be able to avail the benefits of the Universal Health Care Act as the government failed to strengthen its health budget that results to the lack of hospitals, health facilities, and personnel.

He pointed out that public healthcare should be directly funded by the government through public hospitals and health facilities.

With the law signed by Duterte, the Makabayan block said more private health facilities will dominate the healthcare system of the government. (Princess Regina Clamohoy, HCDC Intern/

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