Among the government’s target for privatization are specialized health institutions like the Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, National Center for Mental Health, Philippine Orthopedic Hospital and National Children’s Hospital. The privatization of these institutions hands on to private owners the “right” to dictate the prices for health services, further commercializing health care services and denying indigent clients the much-needed help.
The privatization strengthens foreign corporations’ control on our economy.Chestcore said that 72 percent of our drug industry is controlled by foreign multi-national corporations while only 28 percent is controlled by local corporations – 23 percent of which is controlled by the United Laboratories (Unilab).
As a consequence, prices can be dictated by those who control the industry, Chestcore claimed citing that a brand of Amoxicillin 500 mg has a manufacturing cost of P1.49 ($0.04 at the Jan. exchange rate of $1:P40.60) per tablet but is retailed at P22 ($0.54) or even more.
The patenting of medicinal plant species is another issue strengthening foreign control on the pharmaceutical industry. Chestcore said that foreign corporations have already patented Philippine species like the banaba (cure for diabetes), sambong (for its anti-tumor agent), and lagundi (for hair-growth and for curing coughs).
The exodus of health workers, abetted by the government’s labor-export policy, worsens the state of our health care system. Due to lack of employment opportunities in the country and very low salaries, there is an exodus of Filipino health workers abroad. It is approximated that 85 percent of Filipino nurses are now abroad. The Philippines is among the top exporter of doctors, next to India. Reportedly, 80 percent of public health physicians have taken up or enrolled in nursing schools, geared toward jobs as nurses abroad.
Welfare system vs. privatization
Even the WB appreciated Cuba’s achievement not only in health, but also in education. In the WB’s World Development Indicators, particularly in 2001, Cuba topped all poor countries in the field of health and education statistics.
This development has been achieved despite the 49-year trade embargo imposed by the U.S. Cuba’s experience shows that they are on the right track. Cuba was never a member of the IMF-World Bank but it has survived through its nationalized economy.
In contrast, the Philippines, which had swallowed all the neocolonial policies of the U.S., is now among the poorest countries of the world. Its economy is loan-oriented and dependent on the IMF-WB and since World War II the Philippines has allotted the biggest part of its budget to the servicing of debts (mostly IMF-WB loans). Foreign control over the national economy is strengthened due to the government’s policies of trade liberalization, deregulation, and privatization – of which Arroyo was a major proponent as a senator during the Ramos administration.
Comparing the systems of Cuba and the Philippines, the system that Cuba asserted shows that their fundamental human rights are respected – as exemplified by its health care, their low infant mortality rate; their economic and political system.
On the other hand, the Philippines needs to learn from Cuba’s experience and must move away from the path of de-nationalization of its economy if it wants to improve its conditions and fully respect the fundamental human rights of its people. Northern Dispatch / Posted by(Bulatlat.com)