AHW outlines qualities of next DOH chief they would prefer

The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) is hoping President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. will appoint a pro-health worker and pro-people secretary of the Department of Health (DOH), who stands against the privatization of public hospitals and prioritizes health over profit.

“Our prospect is a DOH chief who is audient and responsive to the legitimate issues and concerns of the health workers for safety, protection, rights and welfare as well as the health of the people. A DOH chief who sees us health workers as partners in providing quality health services for the people,” Robert Mendoza, AHW national president, said.

Mendoza added, “We prefer a health chief who has an excellent track record on good governance, accountability and integrity, and one who will wholeheartedly serve the people.”

He said they would strongly reject a DOH chief who has a track record of being involved in “anomalous” transactions like the Pharmally deal.

“…And one who has a record of gross negligence in the disposition of medicines and medical supplies as many of these were only stored in DOH warehouses and eventually expired and wasted, even as many patients are deprived of accessing free medicines, supplies and medical health services,” he said.

Moreover, Mendoza added, health workers are deeply disappointed knowing about the “injustice” done in tackling the Pharmally case.

“We will never forget that during the earliest surge of the pandemic, many have died, including our fellow health workers due to negligence and incompetence of the DOH and Duterte administration. It is just so frustrating and infuriating that these demise happened amidst the P42 billion anomaly in the Pharmally deal,” Mendoza stated.

He said that the P42 billion in question should have been utilized for the purchase of Covid-19 and non-Covid medicines, medical supplies and equipment, health workers’ protective gears and payment for the health workers unreleased Covid-19 benefits.

“Many poor patients could have benefited from it for their hospitalization and treatment,” he added.

AHW reiterated, “They want a DOH secretary who will push for the provision of 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product health budget in order to ensure free supply of medicines, modernization of health facilities and provision of free health services in all public hospitals.”

“The provision of enough budget for health would prevent commercialization and privatization of health services in government hospitals. A DOH chief who will address the chronic understaffing and contractualization among health personnel as these are obstacles in providing quality health care,” he said.

“We need a health secretary who can guarantee and will respect our constitutional right to self-organization, collective negotiations, peaceful concerted activities, security of tenure, and to petition the government for redress of grievances,” Benjamin Santos, AHW secretary general, for his part, said.

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