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From the Editor

De-accredit HIV treatment hubs that fail to deliver services and yet collect OHAT Package

Harsh as this may sound, all HIV treatment hubs that fail to deliver the services they’re supposed to deliver, and yet still regularly collect the OHAT Package of the clients they’re supposed to serve should be castigated. Abusers should not be allowed to exist.

Photo by Bermix Studio from Unsplash.com

Oo (Yes), the more HIV treatment hubs we have in the Philippines, then the more facilities Filipinos living with HIV can access. That’s the theory. That’s the dream. That’s the ideal.

But – enough of the bullshit – when the hubs accredited by the Department of Health (DOH) do not have the capability and capacity to render the services needed by people living with HIV (PLHIV), they should NOT have been accredited in the first place. Otherwise, kung kailangan talaga sila i-accredit (Otherwise, if they really need to be accredited), then:

  • The DOH should make sure they – eventually (and yeah, make and stick to a timeline) – become capacitated to deliver the services they’re supposed to deliver by training the people there, providing equipment (or at least link them to suppliers), and so on.
  • The DOH should regularly monitor these treatment hubs to be able to definitively say that they’ve evolved and can not deliver the services they’re supposed to deliver.

Ang nangyayari, andaming (What is happening is there are too many) HIV treatment hubs that can only offer the most basic – i.e. dispense antiretroviral (ARV) medicines.

So – for PLHIVs who are enrolled in these treatment hubs – forget the items in the list of “minimum services” that treatment hubs should be providing under OHAT, namely:

  • CD4 test
  • viral load tests
  • “adherence counseling” or any other counseling services
  • consultations, home visits, or teleconsultations
  • TB-related services
  • diagnosis/monitoring of treatment failure (such as genotyping)
  • prevention of Hepatitis B infection

Eto pa (Here’s another thing), there are hubs that do not even have “connections” – e.g. if they can’t give CD4 test, they do not know where to forward their client, so the clients end up tapping private service providers for some of the tests they need… and when doing so, they pay on their own. Ano ang nakakagalit dito (What makes one angry with this)? The hubs that do this still collect the full ₱39,500.00 OHAT Package per PLHIV per year.

Matagal na itong napapansin ng mga PLHIVs, at ng mga nasa HIV advocacy and activism (PLHIVs and HIV advocates and activists have noticed this for many years already). And yet… may narinig ka na bang (have you ever heard of any) treatment hub that was de-accredited for this? Or for any other bad practices, for that matter.

One HIV “leader” once said to me to “give chance to erring treatment hubs”. When I asked him how long PLHIVs and HIV advocates and activists should be patient to abusers, he couldn’t give a proper answer. And sans that, he is – basically – enabling these practices that should NOT be existing in the first place.

In widening the network of HIV treatment hubs, there is a need to focus on QUALITY, not just QUANTITY.

This mantener (getting by) mentality has to stop. Because – this needs to be stressed over and over and over again – with HIV, people’s lives are at stake. When treatment hubs fail in doing what they’re supposed to do, someone’s bound to get hurt… and it usually isn’t those who profit off OHAT Package, but those who do not receive the lifesaving services.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).

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