The state-run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital has once again made on the top list of the world’s best maternal healthcare providers; but it also landed on the roster of the country’s controversial news.
Since 2014 up to date, rumor has it that the Fabella Hospital will allegedly be privatized and/or abolished. It has thus gained heated exchanges between the government and citizen groups.
Based on the current development of the issue, the fate of the hospital lies on the referendum made by its officials and employees. According to ‘Save Fabella Hospital Movement’ Spokesperson Elvie Mendoza, the unofficial numbers seem to favor the Department of Health’s proposed plan to relocate the hospital over the option of retrofitting the buildings.
The relocation plan which includes the construction of a six-floor, 800-bed capacity, Level-3 hospital within the nearby DOH compound on Rizal Avenue is projected to be completed sometime in 2017. There’s no confirmation on the matter of privatization so far.
Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital (Source: fabella.doh.gov.ph)
Fear of higher fees
People are protesting against the plan to close Fabella Hospital, the largest maternal healthcare provider in the city. While not necessarily equipped with the best facilities, pregnant women and their families are assured of skilled doctors and nurses and a service that they can afford. The pending issue also drives fear regarding the personnel’s security of tenure and a fear of higher service fees.
One of the movements formed, the ‘Save Fabella Hospital Movement’, expressed its support for improving the hospital by suggesting that the DOH plan be made as an extension facility where paying patients will be accommodated. It furthered that the original site must be retrofitted instead for indigent patients and be retained as a heritage building.
The Department of Health on the other hand clarified that they have no plans to privatize the hospital or make it a Government-Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC).
DOH Secretary Janette Garin also clarified that even if her predecessor had proposals to privatize the hospital, she did not follow suit.
Is Privatization the only likely solution for improvement?
Despite the contradicting claims between the government and the citizen groups, there is only one truth that cannot surely be bent in this Fabella Hospital privatization issue. It is the fact that the government shall strive to invest in and scale up public utilities. It shall not see privatization as a solution to fulfill its constitutional mandate to protect and promote the right to health of the people.
Basic social services such as affordable, safe, and quality healthcare shall be accessible and all-inclusive. Without healthy and safe citizens, particularly women and children, progress is out of reach. There is a need to condemn anti-people policies for they degrade human rights which are the very cornerstone of our democratic government. (Mariz Patanao)