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News :: Human Rights : International : Labor : Organizing : Social Welfare
Philippines: Akbayan pushes for universal healthcare
07 Feb 2013
In line with its 15th founding anniversary, Akbayan Party-list yesterday launched a “health festival” in Manila to draw attention to the need for the Aquino government to carry out a universal healthcare program to provide comprehensive “social health protection’ to Filipinos.
According to Akbayan Chairperson Risa Hontiveros, the health festival was their way of highlighting the need to pursue health reforms alongside other key reforms currently being instituted.

Health reform essential component of anti-corruption drive

“Health reform is part of the daang matuwid. The most visible proof of government mismanagement and corruption are underfunded hospitals, outdated medical facilities, and lack of public investment in healthcare in general. Corruption made our people sick,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros said one way to ensure that the dividends generated by the people’s reform campaign in government are felt by the public is by ensuring that health services are accessible to them.

“Whether they go to a private or government hospital, they can rest assured that they will receive proper medical attention without worrying how to pay for it because a universal healthcare program will lay down the mechanism for financing health services,” Hontiveros said.

The former partylist lawmaker said the government’s universal healthcare program must focus on providing 1) expanding healthcare coverage through Philhealth, 2) increasing community-based health services, 3) making hospital care affordable and accessible, and 3) lowering the cost of medicines further.

Build on success of RH and Sin Tax laws

Hontiveros said the Aquino administration must build on the successes of recently passed RH and the Sin tax laws by starting the process of crafting a universal healthcare policy this year.

“If 2012 was the year of the RH and Sin tax laws then 2013 should be the year of universal healthcare,” according to Hontiveros.

Hontiveros added that universal healthcare was the logical continuation of the RH law and other health reform laws.

“The long road to passing the RH law should continue towards universal healthcare. One thing that we’ve shown to the public in our campaign to pass RH is that healthcare is currently beyond the reach of millions of Filipinos. That needs to change,” said Hontiveros, who was also the principal author of the RH bill in the 14th Congress and co-author of the Cheaper Medicines Act.

Stand up for public health, defend RH law in SC

Hontiveros also urged the people to defend the recently passed RH law which is currently the target of six petitions filed before the Supreme Court questioning its constitutionality.

We must protect our hard-fought victories. The RH law's enactment is giving us a chance to stop maternal deaths and put an end to an epidemic of ignorance that disempowers women and men alike. We must not allow the ill-founded, desperate and unreasonable attempts of a few to squander that chance,” Hontiveros concluded.

The health festival was conducted at Barangay 111 in Tondo, Manila in partnership with the office of Manila Councilor Dennis “DA” Alcoreza. The health festival featured various health and medical services such as pap smears and medical consultations, as well as a soup kitchen. Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal treatments, vitamins, and other medicines were also distributed to the health festival participants.

Aside from medical services, leaflets and flyers about proper medical hygiene were also distributed. Participants were also entertained by performances from renowned folk singer Noel Cabangon and rap group Crazy as Pinoy.

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