Group to start series of protests vs privatization of Philippine Orthopedic Center, public hospitals

ON the 26th anniversary of the bloody Mendiola Massacre under then President Corazon Aquino, militant urban poor Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) will start a series of protests leading to the Pre-Bid Conference of the Modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (MPOC) on January 25.

The MPOC is among the priority Public-Private Partnership projects of the Aquino administration, which entered its bidding process in November last year.

Once the PPP Center and the Department of Health found an investor to finance the P5.7-B privatization project, a modern yet private orthopedic center is expected to be built as early as July 2013 to replace the existing public orthopedic center. The new hospital will ne operated by the said investor for 25 years.

According to Kadamay, the privatization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center will serve as a catalyst for the privatization of more public hospitals under the Aquino administration. This will only mean annual death to thousands, if not tens of thousands, of indigent patients who will be unable to cope up with the tremendous increase in the cost of health services that comes with privatization. According to Alliance of Health Workers, 7 out of 10 poor patients die without receiving any medical attention from public hospitals. The number will increase as not less than 36 public hospitals and medical centers in the country are bound to be privatized under Aquino’s Universal Health Care Program.

The group will hold series of protests against the privatization of the POC and other public hospitals starting tomorrow, January 22, with a leafleteering drive and petition sigining with visitors, employees and patients of the POC. A masked impersonator of death in black attire and holding a slayer axe (marked as ‘PPP’) will dramatize the group’s statement that privatization of public hospitals and health services under Aquino’s PPP is like a deathblow to the urban poor and to other toiling sectors.

On January 23, Wednesday, Kadamay will hold synchronized community protests in Metro Manila vs the planned privatization of the POC and other public hospitals. A protest action of POC health workers is also set on the same day.

On January 24, Kadamay is set to hold protests outside public hospitals in Metro Manila that aside from the POC will be privatized such as the Amang Rodriguez Medical Center, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, among others.

On January 25, hundreds of urban poor together with health workers will aim to barricade the gates of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) which is the venue of the Pre-Bid Conference of the MPOC.

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