POC modernization project will prioritize profit, medical tourism over delivery of essential health services

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano today supported public health workers and indigent patients as they opposed the ongoing pre-bidding conference for the P5.6-billion Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) modernization project.

Several other GOCC hospitals will undergo ‘corporatization’ and ‘privatization’ schemes.

The modernization of the POC is a big-ticket public-private partnership (PPP) project approved by the Aquino administration. “Essentially, the POC modernization project will give utmost priority to ‘medical tourism’ and will abandon the government’s responsibility of providing affordable health services to Filipinos,” said Mariano.

“Negosyo at hindi na serbisyo ang pangunahing layunin ng panibagong Philippine Orthopedic Center. Ang mga negosyante ang makikinabang at hindi na ang taumbayan,” the Anakpawis solon said.

The Philippine Orthopedic Center is the country’s primary health facility that caters mainly to patients with orthopaedic, spinal injuries and neuromuscular conditions. Under the modernization project, the government will phase-out the existing POC Hospital that provides free and discounted services to poor patients.

The project is a 25-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) concession agreement that involves the construction of a 700-bed capacity super-specialty tertiary orthopedic hospital to be located within the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) Compound in Quezon City.

Under the BOT project, the concessionaire will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the facility until the end of the concession period, and then transfer the hospital to the DOH. “The private concessionaire will impose sky-high rates of hospital and medical services,” Mariano said.

“This modernization project will prioritize profit and business interests over the delivery of essential health services to the public, especially to indigent patients who cannot afford the high cost of orthopedic-related operations and medical expenses,” Mariano said.

There are currently seven private bidders interested in the project, including Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) owned by business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan. ###