• Death of Nobel laureate shows gov’t neglect of health care system


    Progressive groups said the death of American chemist and Nobel laureate Richard Heck who was denied admission in a private hospital shows glaring proof of “a profit-driven health care system and government neglect in the Philippines.”

    Heck, 84, died on October 9 in a public hospital, where he was brought after being denied admission in a private health care facility where he had unpaid bills. He was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry along with two Japanese chemists in 2010. He retired and lived in Quezon City in 2006, with his Filipina wife Socorro, who died in 2012.

    “Heck was a victim of a profit-driven health care system and government neglect in the Philippines,” said Feny Cosico, secretary general of the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham).

    “Heck has survived prostate cancer and has been taking maintenance for diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and slight dementia. He has been in and out of the hospital for pneumonia since 2013 which sucked out all his remaining fortunes,” Cosico said.

    Heck “was severely vomiting when he was rushed to the private hospital, which refused to admit him.

    “It is very ironic that Heck’s research has been used to advance medical breakthroughs aiming to save millions of lives, yet he died not receiving treatment,” she added.

    Worst place to die
    Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus said Heck’s tragic death belies the “straight path” taken by the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd as the country was even included among “[t]he worst places to die,” in the 2015 Quality of Death Index study.

    The commissioned study by The Economist for the Lien Foundation ranked the quality of palliative care in 80 countries, in which the Philippines ranked 78th.

    De Jesus said Heck’s death puts to shame the P128 billion ($2.78 billion) health budget for 2016, which health sector groups say is “misallocated.”

    “Like in the past years’ budgets, the biggest allotments are allocated to Philippine Health Insurance Incorporation (PhilHealth) and Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), which do not address the poor patients’ health needs,” de Jesus said.

    “If a person of Heck’s stature with his important contributions to technology that ease society’s burdens cannot seek decent emergency or even hospice care here, how can our millions of poor Filipinos expect quality treatment?” she asked.

    According to Agham’s computation, in public hospitals, PhilHealth only covers an average of 27 percent of the cost of expenses, while patients shoulder the rest.

    “The average cost of confinement in a public health facility is 43 times larger than the minimum wage, while private facilities cost 66 times more,” the group said.

    Cosico said the Nobel laureate should have been treated more humanely, “in gratitude for his role in the field of medical science.”

    “Heck is already included in the mortality rate wherein seven out of 10 dying in the Philippines have not seen or consulted a doctor,” he added.


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    1. In a different post some people said it was St Lukes that refused to help him.
      The most beautiful hospital in the Philippines according to their website.
      Just like some people, only pretty on the outside.

    2. Do we feel bad because he was a Nobel Prize awardee? It happens everyday to many Filipinos, not just the poorest. He wasn’t poor . I think his caregivers just did not know how to tap the resources he could have availed of. That is what is unfortunate.

    3. watch out , MPI keep on buying hospitals and keep on raising hospital bill once they control the hospital. manny pangilinan have pity on sick people !

    4. It is a shame that Nobel laureate Richard Heck died because he was turned away by a private hospital. If a famed Nobel Prize winner like Richard Heck was denied care, what chance have the poor got to receive better private hospital treatment? None.

    5. carlos deleste on

      Why is it that our public hospitals are always inadequately equipped with supplies to
      to treat pts with basic needs. they have to depend on foreign medical missions. As mentioned above there adequate money set aside for this. I suspect that it is pocketed by those assigned to use it.

    6. Why in the name of..HecK was a US citizen living in RP. The operative word is US Citizen and a very special one. US has the foremost responsibility over Mr. Heck and at his condition close coordination from US Embassy was expected with all possible assistance to give as required. USA failed on Mr. Heck not RP, intiendes.

      • It was a Philippines hospital that refused to help him. Ya it stinks and it’s embarrassing but it does support the authors point that hospitals are all about the money and unless you are rich like a Philippines politician you are out of luck.

        More fun in the Philippines right ?