Delivering public health services is one of the glaring failures of Noynoy Aquino’s administration and, with just months left in its agonizing term, the President’s cronies are working double time to fleece public funds supposedly intended to help the sick.
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), which is envisioned as an instrument in extending tremendous financial assistance to indigent Filipinos with medical needs, has served as another milking cow of administration cronies.
One “Nicanor Flavier,” a non-employee but a PCSO fixture, is allegedly doing a “Janet Lim-Napoles” by masterminding and serving as a conduit between unscrupulous PCSO officials and local government unit (LGU) officials.
According to my informants, Flavier deals with contractors and suppliers, as well as LGU chief executives, involving hundreds of millions of pesos in PCSO funds supposedly intended for the purchase of medicines for the LGUs’ constituents.
This culprit reportedly hangs around the PCSO’s Releasing Department, where he has bonded with insiders who connive with him to manipulate purchases of medical supplies to be delivered to different cities and municipalities and to governors.
He rakes in tens of millions of pesos in commission, representing 10 to 50 percent of the total costs of the purchases while mayors and governors pocket their 10 percent kickback, as well.
Flavier usually instruct the LGU executive to “under-deliver” or “not to deliver” medicines at all to their unsuspecting constituents.
It’s disheartening to even imagine what is actually left of public funds for the purchase of medical supplies, a significant portion of which is pilfered at the local level.
And, failure to deal with Flavier and his cohort PCSO officials would mean “long delays” in the release of their checks.
I wonder what PCSO Chairman Ayong Maliksi can say about this? Or will he do something about it at all? Let’s wait and see.
‘Maltreatment’ decried by NKTI patients
Similarly unfortunate to hear are reports on how poor patients are “maltreated” at some public or semi-private hospitals.
Day in and day out, droves of indigent people seek treatment at government-operated medical institutions, understandably being unable to afford high-quality services at private hospitals.
Unfortunately, in the agonizing process of being accommodated at less cost, a number of poor patients are “routinely” subjected to verbal and physical abuses by arrogant and oppressive medical staff at these facilities.
One recent example is the case of a young teacher who was diagnosed with lupus erythematosus, a debilitating illness that causes intolerable pain and mental distress.
She had to bear with the ordeal of travelling once or twice weekly to outpatient department if the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) on East Avenue, Quezon City, and “get in line” before sunrise to secure a number tab and beat the “cut-off.”
At government facilities like NKTI, Lung Center of the Philippines and Philippine General Hospital, patients who do not make the daily “quota” do not receive medical assistance no matter if they came from a far-flung province.
Those who get a lucky number have to wait for hours at a hot, crowded waiting area not even conducive to lupus and kidney patients.
The wheelchair-bound lupus patient and her widower dad made the quota last Friday morning but not without being subjected to unnecessary humiliation by a hot-tempered nurse, who apparently hated her job.
For unexplained reason, this nurse and other medical staff, arrogantly yell and howl causing among confused patients, including the elderly, who are already suffering serious illness and depression.
“Kung bakit laging mainit ang ulo nila, parang mangmang o kriminal ang kausap nila, kahit matatanda, napapaiyak na lang,” a kidney patient said.
In fairness, head nurse Angie Rodriguez, told a member of my staff that she will act on the complaint, which she admitted was not a first.
We’ve received similar complaints about patients being maltreated and “bullied” by some staff at the PGH, too.
To treat ill-stricken people inhumanely is in itself “sick,” especially on the part of a health professional and a public servant.
Health Secretary Janet Garin must look into this malpractice.
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