A health security disconnect
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the John Hopkins Center for Health Security scored the Philippines a dismal zero in five health security indicators, attributing the failure to health spending and immunization.
The results of the EIU report comes in the midst of reports of the resurgence of polio and other infectious diseases, and our government’s struggles in containing the spread of African Swine Fever.
EIU noted that these failing grades come although “health security” was placed second in the government’s 12-point agenda in the country’s national security policy for 2017 through 2022. This document says the government shall endeavor to prevent “the effects of infectious diseases as well as interdicting illegal and hazardous agents.”
Failing scores in reports such as the EIU’s give reason for groups to call the current healthcare situation in the country a crisis of its own making amid the under-funding of the Department of Health for 2020 on top of the outbreaks of infectious diseases like polio and ASF. Our government also has to deal with the public’s growing distrust in vaccines after certain government officials have been inexplicably allowed to wreak havoc upon the program by sowing unfounded fears and shattering public confidence in vaccination.
Health security rank may high in the government’s national security policy but the results on the ground show a significant disconnect between policy and action. It wouldn’t be so bad if a government that had been spending too much time and energy on the public health catastrophe that is its war on drugs had been keeping its word when it comes to health security in general but with the return of a polio epidemic, a limping vaccination program, an ASF outbreak, and most importantly, a decline in public health spending; it would seem obvious that health security has not been a top priority and our country deserves its failing grade from groups like the EIU.
The question right now is if our government can do enough to put its money where it says its priorities lie and boost health spending so we can contain the current outbreaks, prevent future ones, especially diseases that were thought to have been eliminated by successful interventions and vaccination programs from returning; and give the Filipino people the security and peace of mind that they deserve when it comes to their health.*