In a rally by nurses demanding an increase in their entry-level salary grade, the health workers criticized the government’s disproportionate response to the AH1N1 or swine flu epidemic. They said that other diseases which are far more common and deadlier – for example tuberculosis or diarrhea — have largely been ignored.
“Despite the so-called cheaper-medicines law, we haven’t brought down the incidences of poverty-related diseases. Instead, morbidity and mortality rates have even increased,” Nolasco, of HAIN, said. She cited the still widespread malnutrition. “It’s not only fatal, it can also cause learning difficulties and disabilities,” Nolasco said.
To this day, said Nolasco, diarrhea still kills; cholera has returned; pneumonia, broncho-pneumonia, and other illnesses that had been supposedly controlled years ago, are showing up again. There is also a resurgence of malaria and dengue cases, she said.
Apart from rising death rates due to poverty-related diseases, or diseases that sprung and became fatal because of lack of proper nutrition and sanitation, among others, Nisperos of HEAD also cited the nil impact of the law on the second biggest health problem of Filipinos — chronic diseases such as hypertension.Though prevention is better, it is still a given that people today are contracting chronic diseases. “Once you are stricken with it, you’re forced to be under medication for the rest of your life,” Nisperos warned. It thus becomes all too important for people to be able to buy their needed medicines.
Without discounting the number of the dying, Nisperos called attention to the growing number of people now who can’t function well because of their failure to acquire medicines for their chronic illnesses. “We’ve been saying for a long time — our peoples’ inability to access their needed medicines don’t just result in many untimely deaths, it also results in many suffering pain instead of becoming healthy, productive citizens.” There are more people, Nisperos said, “whose illnesses get worse because they can’t buy the medication they regularly need.”
And being a member of PhilHealth won’t help either, Nisperos said. “Further illustrating the inutility of the cheaper-medicine law, it didn’t even get PhilHealth’s cooperation, as PhilHealth doesn’t cover medicines for chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart ailments.
RA 9502, in other words, “has absolutely no impact on health services,” Nisperos said. (Bulatlat.com)