Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2012 health budget reveals Aquino’s policy of neglect and profiteering out of the ailing public

The 2012 proposed health budget generally reveals Aquino’s policy of neglect and unabashed commercialization of public health services instead of dutifully providing it as a public service, claimed by Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD).

Although there would seem to be an increase in the proposed P42.693B health budget for 2012 from this year’s P32.427B, the increase is still gravely inadequate considering the steady inflation and the sustained increase in the prices of medicines and medical equipment which is badly needed by the largely poor population; nor will it provide the adequate number of public health personnel, said Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD secretary general.

While the Aquino administration brags about an increase of more than P10B in the DOH budget, the said additional funds are not allotted where they would matter more. For example, the allotment for Maintenance, Operations and Other Expenditures (MOOE) for public hospitals was minimally increased if not retained. The Capital Outlay allotment (like in the 2011 budget) is still ZERO. The budget for Personal Services (PS) is surprisingly slightly increased and in other hospitals even decreased when the allotment for PS should reflect a considerable increase considering the last tranche of the Salary Increase for government employees takes effect next year.

In a study made by the Coalition for Health Budget Increase (CHBI) of the proposed 2012 Budget, the increase in the health budget defines the Aquinio Health Agenda of privatization and commercialization of public health care which will further jeopardize the health of the people. The bigger chunk of the increase of P12.5 B is allotted to PhilHealth (P8.5 B more from its 2011 budget); health insurance schemes including PhilHealth had been scrutinized for being non-beneficial if public hospitals remain ill-equipped and understaffed. With the inherent limitation in benefits from PhilHealth, members still spend from their own pockets for their medical needs. Another P3B is allotted for government equity for Public-Private Partnership in 25 regional hospitals.

According to HEAD, the proposed 2012 health budget is a far cry from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of 5% of gross national product (GNP) that should be allotted for health, which is around P440 billion. This budget being weaved by the Aquino leadership would only result in more commercialization and privatization of public health care services.

While the group challenged the Aquino government to stop cuts in subsidies for social services, it instead calls for a P90B health budget to somehow ease the greater inaccessibility and address the immediate needs of health workers in salaries and benefits.

“Indeed the proposed budget reflects privatization in its entirety, with the government continuing to diminish spending in social services and scheming to generate profit out of the ailing public.”