In the Miserable Depths of Poverty

Hunger and destitution

This year, multitudes of Filipinos experienced “extreme hunger” based on the studies of various groups. According to the research conducted by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), an alarming number of Filipino families had to skip meals simply because they cannot afford to eat three times a day. Conchita Orande, a resident of Payatas, lamentably confesses that in her lifetime, her family had never skipped a meal until the past few months when they often had to miss dinner because they had no money. Some prolong their sleep and wake up late so they can combine their breakfast and lunch, said the group.

Meanwhile, according to the Third Quarter 2008 Survey of the Social Weather Station (SWS), an estimated 3.3 million families experienced “involuntary hunger” in the period August-October this year.

Likewise, the survey conducted by IBON Foundation last April showed that more and more Filipinos find it difficult to buy food and other basic commodities.

Health is at the bottom of the urban poor’s list of priorities, says Dr. Geneve Rivera of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD). Since the purchasing power of the peso is low and inflation is high, they put food and other immediate expenses first on their list. Their nutritional needs are neglected since what their earnings can afford are unhealthy foods like noodles and cheap canned and dried goods, Rivera further said. Some even resort to eating “pagpag” (leftovers recycled though boiling and re-cooking) as is done in the slum areas of Tondo and Payatas.

Diseases that can be easily cured are rampant among the urban poor since they are unable to address their health needs, according to HEAD.

The meager budget that the health sector receives annually makes it difficult for the Department of Health (DoH) and public medical institutions like the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to extend medical assistance to the urban poor.

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