DOH: Delayed Covid allowances ‘underway’

DOH: Delayed Covid allowances ‘underway’

THE Department of Health Central Visayas (DOH 7) has called for continued patience amid the concerns of health workers about their long delayed Covid-19 allowances.

In a statement, the DOH 7 said an additional P2 billion has been allocated for the delayed Health Emergency Allowance (HEA) of eligible public and private healthcare workers in Central Visayas.

“We urge all stakeholders to await updates from their respective focal persons, adhering to our communication protocol, to allow our processing team time to address other crucial tasks,” a portion of the statement read.

It further said the DOH central office has allocated P2,015,896,062.50 to cover the period July 1, 2021, to July 20, 2023.

The DOH said the disbursement process for this latest fund sub-allotment will be underway after identifying the first 154 facilities that have submitted complete documentary requirements as recipients.

The DOH 7 said these facilities have been notified of the processing of their claims, with funds expected to be transferred by the end of May.

Despite the progress made, the DOH 7 called for patience and understanding particularly among healthcare workers awaiting payment.

It added that with the agency’s meticulous validation process, including the examination of Covid-19 Risk Exposure Classification reports, stakeholders must adhere to the communication protocol to facilitate efficient processing.

Earlier, the United Private Hospital Unions of the Philippines (Uphup) reported in April 2024 that over 80,000 healthcare workers from several private hospitals are still awaiting their HEA.

Ronald Ignacio, Uphup spokesman, said the DOH 7 owes them 12 to 20 months’ worth of allowance.

The amount healthcare workers receive will vary depending on the risk level of their employment.

Based on the guidelines, a health worker is entitled to P3,000 for low-risk areas; P6,000 for medium-risk areas; and P9,000 for high-risk areas.

Republic Act 11712, known as the Public Health Emergency Benefits and Allowances for Health Care Workers Act of 2022, ensures that health workers receive the HEA for each month of service during a state of public health emergency.

During the Covid-19 pandemic that began in March 2020, the Philippines was under a public health emergency implementing lockdown measures against the virus.

In July 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. issued Proclamation 29, lifting the state of public health emergency throughout the country.

Claims

The DOH 7 said since implementing HEA, formerly known as ‘One Covid Allowance,’ 7,178 monthly claims were validated amounting to P6,174,441,718.75 from 271 eligible facilities in the region.

As of April 1, 2024, P3,698,532,656.25, or 60 percent of the said amount, has been allocated to cover the payment of 4,895 claims for the specified period.

The remaining unpaid claims amount to P2,475,909,062.50, covering 2,283 monthly claims from 129 facilities, including all recently approved claims submitted before the February 29 deadline.

On April 16, the Department of Budget and Management in a statement sent to SunStar Cebu called on the DOH to address the bottlenecks in the release of the unpaid money allowance claims of healthcare workers.

Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman noted that her office had released around P91.283 billion to the DOH for the disbursement of health workers’ benefits and allowances. / KJF

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