President Noynoy Aquino should strengthen community-based health programs as partners in developing better healthcare for all.
The group Health Alliance for Democracy made this call as it joined volunteer community health workers from all over the country in a four-day general assembly in Quezon City. The assembly ended yesterday amid re-affirmations of commitment to serve far-flung areas despite very little government support and threats from state security forces.
“Community-based health programs have been at the forefront of providing healthcare services and education since the 1970s. These are people helping people, volunteers from poor families who provide services and basic health education to their fellow poor families, especially in rural and frontier areas,” said Dr. Darby Santiago, an ophthalmologist and HEAD chairperson.
According to Dr. Santiago, the continuing relevance of CBHPs today reflects not just their significant role among marginalized communities but also government’s failures to address the needs of these communities.
“People-based health programs work because they are anchored on people’s direct participation, on commitment despite the odds, and on communal welfare rather than on narrow self interests.”
The Aquino administration should strengthen and support such people-based health initiatives instead of promoting the corporatization of public hospitals or the privatization of healthcare, which are mainly for profit.
“The invaluable role community health workers should also be emulated. They fill in the gaps where there are no doctors and nurses. They should not be seen as competitors or threats to government, as the military and state security forces usually say,” added Dr. Santiago.
He reminded the case of Morong 43, or the 43 detained and tortured community health workers, as a cautionary tale that should never be allowed to happen again.
“The CHWs remain unfazed in spite of what happened to their colleagues, who like them, have volunteered their lives to help the needy. They reaffirm their commitment while demanding that the injustices stop now.”
“Some injustices should be immediately rectified through the release of the Morong 43!” concluded Dr. Santiago. ###
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, Health Alliance for Democracy(HEAD)
Cellphone #: 0920 460 3712
Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, Health Alliance for Democracy(HEAD)
Cellphone #: 0927 473 7700
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