07 September 2016
Change is not coming from the DOH
The 2017 health budget is a rehash of the old and provide little new.
Contrary to the slogan that catapulted President Rodrigo R. Duterte to power, change will not be coming by way of the Department of Health (DOH). That is, if the agency’s 2017 budget is to be the gauge.
According to Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), the DOH budget for next year contains essentially the same items with no significantly new programs. Even the paltryincreases in funds for specific line items are the same. Moreover, the budget for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) was decreased by almost 50%. The P38 billion MOOE budget would result to additional burden to patients.
“Aside from the restored P2 billion for reproductive health under the ‘Family Health and Responsible Parenting,’ there is no new item in the proposed DOH budget that would reflect the supposed emphasis on Primary Health Care being flaunted under the Duterte Health Agenda.” noted Dr. Joseph Carabeo, HEAD secretary-general.
As stated in the Special Provisions of the budget, funds exclusively allocated for preventive health care programs will come from the “National Pharmaceutical Policy Development”(P164.2 million) and “Disease Prevention and Control” (P13.7 billion). However, a bulk will go to the Expanded Program on Immunization, which has an increase of P3.1 billion.
“This,” according to Dr. Carabeo, “despite the controversies and corruption issuessurrounding vaccine purchases.”
In contrast, despite the alarming rise in human immune deficiency virus/acquired immunity deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) cases and dengue epidemics, this program has a modest increase of P500 million.
Moreover, the budget for “Health Promotion” was slashed off by almost 40%, whereas funds for “Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance” were also cut.
In terms of health human resource development, the main program is still the “Doctors to the Barrios Program,” which was started 24 years ago. The 2017 budget is even slightly smaller than that of 2016.
“Again, much of the health budget is allocated to the ‘Health Facilities Enhancement Program’ and the ‘Subsidy for Health Insurance Premium Payment of Indigent Families to the National Health Insurance Program’, which accounts for 15.5% and 35.6%, respectively.”
“Neither one is directly related to preventive care,” Dr. Carabeo added.
“Change should mean progress or development. In health, change means better access to quality health care for all Filipinos, especially the poor. The 2017 health budget of the Duterte administration is a long way off from providing this.” ###