Philippines: Hospitals, Medical Universities Gear Up Towards Environmental Health Care
March 19th, 2009
Manila - Following clamor for environmentally responsible health care,
15 hospitals, four medical universities, a local environment and
natural resources office and a national medical association all pledged
to support environmental health campaigns in hospitals and health care
system in the country.
In the 1st Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia (HCWH-SEA) Partners Meeting, representatives from Notre Dame de Chartres Hospital, Saint Louis Hospital of the Sacred Heart, Pines City Doctors Hospital, Baguio General Hospital and Fort Del Pilar Station Hospital at Philippine Military Academy all in Baguio City, General Santos Doctors Hospital in General Santos City, St Paul Hospitals in Tuguegarao City and Cavite, Northern Samar Provincial Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, Philippine Children's Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, Ospital ng Maynila, Manila Adventist Medical Center and School of Medical Arts, School of Health Sciences at St Paul University in Tuguegarao City, University of the Philippines College of Dentistry, Institute of Public Health Management (IPHM) and Woman Health, Northern Samar Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office, and the Philippine Nurses Association signed petitions supporting campaigns on mercury phase-out in hospitals, alternative budget for health care and debt cancellation for a defunct medical waste incinerator project.
According to Merci Ferrer, HCWH-SEA Executive Director, "this shows that environmental protection is part and parcel of or very much link to taking care of people's health in the country. And we know that these hospitals, medical universities and organization will be in the forefront in all this."
The hospitals, medical universities and organization signed the Mercury Watch Campaign Support Statement vowing to help the Philippine health care system walk through the gradual phase-out of all mercury-containing devices by 2010 as stated in the Department of Health (DoH) Administrative Order 2008-0021 and urging the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to identify and provide temporary storage area for phased-out mercury devices from hospitals.
Several hospitals have already phased-out mercury-containing devices and some are already implementing their mercury minimization program.
It is worthy to note that most of HCWH-SEA partner hospitals have started their mercury minimization program even before the August 2008 signing of AO 21.
Giving what is due
With regards to budget for health care, HCWH-SEA's partners sent a letter to DoH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III calling for the most expeditious way to see the release of the Php 100 million funds for autoclaves for medical waste treatment.
"Most hospitals want to move to a better and safer treatment and disposal of health care wastes. Thus they need no further urging to come up with a letter to the Health Secretary," said Ferrer.
Like HCWH, "the hospitals are saddened to know that a budget which has already been allocated in 2008 is now in danger of ending up in the unreleased appropriations," she added.
No to useless incinerators
HCWH-SEA and its partners likewise sent a petition to Austrian Ambassador Herbert Jaeger calling on the cancellation of the 1997 defunct medical waste incinerators from Austria.
The petition states, "the proper disposal of infectious medical waste has been an abiding concern among Philippine hospitals that are currently seeking non-incineration ways of treating medical waste. It is greatly tragic for the country that instead of the Philippine government financing these non-incineration alternatives and other health needs, US$2 million dollars per year go instead to the payment of a loan for a project that has been a source of harm to the environment."
The loan worth Php503 million will be paid for by the government until 2014.
According to Ferrer, the 1st Partners Meeting is just the start. "In the years to come, we hope to gather more partners and thus more support to safer and environmentally responsible health care."
Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is a global coalition of more than 400 organizations in more than 50 countries working to protect health by reducing pollution in health care sector. For more information, visit www.noharm.org. (30)
Sonia G. Astudillo, Communications Officer, +63 918 9182369, email@example.com
Merci Ferrer, Executive Director, + 63 920 9056113, firstname.lastname@example.org
Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of 473 organizations
in more than 50 countries, working to transform the health care sector so it
is no longer a source of harm to people and the environment.