Group pushes for universal healthcare in ASEAN governments
Members of the Working Group on Social ASEAN are now pushing for the immediate realization of universal healthcare as they decried the highly insufficient state provision for healthcare and the capitalists’ excessive profiting from health services and medicines.
The group composed of networks of civil society organizations, trade unions, migrant workers, and parliamentarians pointed out that healthcare is increasingly treated as a commodity instead of an individual entitlement.
The members reiterated that health care is a fundamental right and governments have a responsibility to realize this right.
“ASEAN member states must ensure that access to health care must be kept affordable to all especially when there is a growing army of gig economy workers in the region” said the ASEAN Services Employees Trade Union Council (ASETUC).
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal that at least half of the world’s 7.3 billion people still do not have access to essential health services, such as having a skilled birth attendant, vaccinations for children or treatment for HIV.
Every day, more than 800 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. And nearly 20 million infants, who do not receive immunizations they need, run the risk of dying from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and measles.
“It is deplorable that instead of increasing national budgets for health, improving health services and facilities, and providing universal healthcare, ASEAN countries are going in the opposite direction of further liberalising healthcare and opting for public-private sector partnerships (PPP) for health services,” said the Network for Transformative Social Protection (NTSP).
“This is unacceptable because privatizing healthcare results in people being held captive by the profit-driven schemes of corporations and companies,” it added.