Tell it to SunStar: Restore 2020 DOH budget

I WILL push to restore the billions of pesos slashed from the Department of Health’s (DOH) proposed 2020 budget to boost government efforts against the dengue and measles outbreaks and ensure the effective implementation of the Universal Healthcare Act.

With the Senate Committee on Finance now scrutinizing the DOH budget for next year, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the DOH must explain why under the proposed national budget for 2020, the DOH is set to receive only P160.15 billion, or 5 percent lower than this year’s allocation of P169.45 billion.

The much-awaited Universal Healthcare Act (UHCA), which ensures accessible and effective health services for all, will begin to be implemented next year. Meanwhile, we also need to bring down cases of measles and dengue, which have sent hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to our hospitals and health centers. Given these, the DOH budget cut is illogical, counter-productive and even criminal. It is an attack on public health.

The proposed P160.15 billion DOH budget for 2020 needs at least P70 billion more to be able to fully empower all programs under the implementation of UHCA in its first year, which was estimated by lawmakers to range from P241.8 billion to P247 billion.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) was supposed to receive a budget of P 152 billion so that every individual who may be suffering from dengue, measles or any other disease or condition may go to their local hospitals and receive treatment without worrying about hefty payments. But under the proposed 2020 budget, PhilHealth will only receive P67 billion. How can the government deliver on its promise of universal healthcare if the health sector is not provided with the appropriate funding?”

I will move to increase funding for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) which will be tapped to achieve the target ratio under the UHC Law of one barangay health station per barangay. The proposed P5.9 billion for HFEP under the 2020 budget is “woefully lacking” when the estimated cost of such a landmark program is pegged at P23.5 billion.

I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support a larger budgetary allocation to health services. Every peso added to health services and programs may literally spell the difference between life and death for our constituents. (By Sen. Risa Hontiveros)


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