Friday, December 3, 2010
A doctor speaks out
An open letter to our congressmen on the RH Bill
I am aware that there are currently six versions of the Reproductive Health Bill filed in the House of Representatives. While I personally share our legislators concern for women and women’s health, I think the Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act focuses on reproductive health or women’s health without giving due importance and priority to health for all, considering our limited resources.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region Report, in the Philippines, eight of the 10 leading causes of morbidity in the country are caused by infections. They are: acute lower respiratory tract infection and pneumonia; acute watery diarrhea; bronchitis/ bronchiolitis; influenza; tuberculosis; malaria; acute febrile illness; and dengue fever. Among these communicable diseases, pneumonia and tuberculosis continue to be among the 10 leading causes of mortality, causing a significant number of deaths across the country.
At the same time as deaths due to preventable diseases have been in a decline, lifestyle-related diseases have begun to dominate in the leading causes of death, particularly heart diseases, vascular system diseases, cancer, diabetes mellitus, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.
In my opinion therefore, if the government needs to address the top ten leading causes of morbidity and mortality in our country, they need to give priority and adequate funding to developing comprehensive health programs to prevent, diagnose, treat cardiovascular diseases, infections, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes mellitus. Exactly how much of our national budget for health and the recently acquired million dollar grant from abroad has been allocated by the government for this purpose? The current Department of Health (DOH) Secretary already said that P900 million has been set aside to purchase contraceptives for use of poor people. But not a single centavo has been allocated for natural method, not even for expenses in properly and fully informing the people of how it is done. Hence the government is in fact favoring the artificial method by using P900 million of the taxpayers’ money to purchase these contraceptives. Clearly the program only boosts the business and further enriches multinational drug companies which are already rich.
Hoping for your consideration of the above points when you deliberate on the RH Bills. Our people need your conscientious study of the facts so that due priority is given to control of communicable and non-communicable diseases over and above RH-related problems.