Reform in health services
Why is measles going on a rampage and has become an epidemic in several places? It is not difficult to see the primary reason. What a big joke that Health Secretary
Enrique Ona is blaming a foreign virus for it!
Measles is a preventable illness and should not occur anymore if only there were preventive local (barangay) healthcare services available to the population. The 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were the glorious years of primary healthcare and preventive healthcare services. Those were the days when preventable diseases that could be licked with immunization were addressed through the “expanded program on immunization.” This program was a major responsibility of public health nurses at the local level. These nurses were specially prepared for public health work, and they were the bulwark of health education campaigns for immunization, maternal and child healthcare, sanitation, oral rehydration for diarrhea, and community health organizations.
At present, the quantity and quality of local health services leave so much to be desired. Since the local government units became primarily responsible for providing healthcare services in their respective jurisdictions because of the devolution law, many local health services have gone awry. Every time there is a report on the rise of certain diseases like HIV, tuberculosis and, now, measles, the Department of Health goes into massive information campaigns and plays an active role in immunization work. But as we all know, these campaigns last only for as long as the problem being addressed is “hot news,” which speaks volumes about our “ningas cogon” culture.
Indeed there is a dire need to make basic care accessible, available and affordable to every Filipino. But for this to be realized for the benefit of the very many Filipinos deprived of basic health services, this country’s present healthcare system must undergo reform. Many countries in the world, especially the poor ones, have strong primary healthcare services that our country barely can provide. The health condition of Filipinos, especially the poor, will worsen if the persisting high level of inequity is not adequately addressed. As Rep. Leah Paquiz said in a privilege speech, “In our country, given the same illness, the rich will survive and the poor will die.”
It is hoped that this observation of Representative Paquiz will be taken to heart by many politicians who have the power to review the marked decline in the quality and quantity of healthcare since the passage of the devolution law. These politicians should help strengthen local healthcare services especially those involving preventive measures. As has been said, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
—DR. AMELIA MANGAY-MAGLACAS,
Nurses’ Initiatives For Change,
147 Panay Avenue, Quezon City
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