• Stop privatization of Fabella hospital, Congress urged

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    A lawmaker urged the Congress to stop the impending “doom” of Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, the oldest and largest maternal hospital in the country.

    Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmi De Jesus said privatizing the maternal hospital and its hundred-mother daily caseload will further marginalize the poor and prevent them from accessing affordable health care.

    “It is the constitutional responsibility of government to improve, develop and modernize public hospitals and public health services but doing this should be in the service of the people, not for the interests of profit-oriented investors and rich clients,” De Jesus said.

    De Jesus said that the public-private partnerships (PPP) should not be used as framework for developing state-owned health facilities because the welfare of the majority of poor Filipinos will be made the least priority, while high profit rates are guaranteed in the contract with the private firms that take over the hospitals.

    According to the labor union Alliance of Health Workers, six bidders participated in the June 2013 public bidding for the building of the new Fabella. The former city jail compound which the hospital is leasing will be rebuilt as a commercial property of the Light Railway Transit.

    The new building at the DOH compound is intended only for 400 patients, almost half of the 700 beds in the current location. The cuts in beds will ensure further hikes in the maternal mortality rate that rendered the Philippines a major flunker of the Millennium Development Goal to reduce risks of pregnancies and births, De Jesus added.

    The lawmaker also plans to probe reports that even a portion of this reduced bed count is actually intended for the medical tourism market that caters to foreigners seeking beauty enhancement treatments, instead of mother-and-child health among the poor.

    “Even now, as the government is already banning home births and passing city ordinances penalizing midwives who provide cheap birthing services, almost every week we hear of women giving birth in taxis and trains. With this privatization of the Fabella, we are sure that poor mothers will experience further hardships in seeking inexpensive natal care for their families. Expect more babies to be born in pedicabs and convenience stores,” ended De Jesus. JHOANNA BALLARAN

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