02/09/2007, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Oppressed by poverty, 3,000 Filipinos sell their organs

by Santosh Digal
Presidency calls a meeting to find ways to counter organ trafficking. Senator criticises national policies that protect foreigners and treat Filipinos as organ suppliers.

Manila (AsiaNews) – More and more Filipinos are selling their kidneys and other organs to rich Westerners seeking transplants. An order has been issued from the Malacañang Presidential Palace that the Department of Health to take every measure necessary to stop this practice.

According to government’s own figures, at least 3,000 Filipinos have been involved in illegal transplants.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said a meeting is scheduled on Saturday among officials of the Department of Health, the National Kidney Foundation, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Philippine Medical Association, the Philippine Hospital Association and prominent doctors to see how to control the problem of organ “brokers” operating in the country. Ermita said guidelines are being prepared "so that where there are criminal liabilities involved, then they have to be proceeded against."

Senator Luisa "Loi" Ejercito Estrada assailed another reported plan of the Department of Health to double the number of foreigners being given kidney transplant in the Philippines as part of the administration's medical tourism programme.

“If allowed, this would be one of the most hideous tourism programme ever designed by any government—make its own citizens as the source of human organ parts needed by rich but dying foreigners," Estrada said.

Making matters worse, the plan would reserve a proportion of organs to foreigners. The new policy on kidney transplant would mean that for every 100 kidney transplant patients, 20 slots would be immediately reserved for foreigners. This would mean continued discrimination of the poor and push them to sell the few things they have like their organs. 

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