Sending millions for an Ebola trust fund
Last February 4, the Philippine Government, represented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, signed a “Standard Administrative Arrangement” between the Republic of the Philippines and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the management of the Philippines’ P90 million contribution to the Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF). According to del Rosario, “this is but one way for us to give back to the international community for the outpouring of support in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan”.
International solidarity goes beyond the mere donation of funds for international support. To truly respect and honor the resources sent to the Philippines, these funds must reach the intended survivors. The news reports of the current condition of the survivors imply otherwise. Thousands in Leyte alone are still jobless. Hunger and illnesses plague the thousands that still live in bunk houses. They are among the 66 million Filipinos that live-off under Php125 per day. Each soul is dependent on government prioritization of basic services to survive.
The government must show the world its honesty in prioritizing its people by refusing to make the same mistakes in managing the people’s budget. Pork barrel flourishes in the 2015 budget. Millions were spent by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to hide the homeless from the Pope’s view. The health budget remains far from the internationally recommended 5% of the GDP.
The DOH prided itself of the capabilities of the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine, a hospital that admittedly only had a 50-bed capacity, wherein a mere 7 of which had the required negative pressure isolation capacity, and one ICU unit. The San Lazaro Hospital and the Lung Center of the Philippines, two of the identified skilled hospitals, also expressed their appeal. It was shown to the public that the hospitals were short in equipment and facilities to handle Ebola cases.The DOH expects competence from its health workers, yet even to date, not all the public hospitals throughout the country have held trainings in controlling dreaded diseases. The situation worsens as the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was already detected in the Philippines just a few days ago.
“Giving back” to the international community entails sincere government prioritization of the people. Projections of grandeur are illusions to a poverty stricken nation. A country that is prepared in preventing another disaster contributes more to the international community.
Eleanor A. Jara, M. D.
Council for Health and Development
#8 Mines Street, Brgy. Vasra, Q.C.