Prevention of communicable diseases important – Garin
HOUSE Committee on Appropriations Vice Chairman and Iloilo Representative Janette Garin has called on the Department of Health (DOH) to put a premium on our country’s prevention and control of communicable diseases as she lamented the almost P4.2 billion or 71.21 percent budget cut in the department’s disease prevention that has been transferred to health promotion program, a move she considered as a “wrong priority” as the country is still in a pandemic.
“We are in dire need of funds and these funds was transferred to the health promotion office and to the blood center and other voluntary blood services, laudable naman po ang programa pero mahirap po kasi i-explain sa taumbayan na ang tinapyas ng DOH ay para sana sa program ng communicable diseases, marami pa tayong challenges, ang pondo na ito ay pwede na ibili ng dagdag na gamot kontra COVID, pwede ibili para sa monkeypox and gamitin sa ibang pangangailangan, my point is the pandemic is not yet over bakit natin tatapyasan ang control and prevention disease,” Garin explained.
Some communicable diseases include covid, tuberculosis, moneypox, leptospirosis, encephalitis, and HIV/AIDS, that has already seen a fresh surge due to disruptions in health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s cumulative confirmed HIV caseload has breached the 100,000-mark within the first half of this year based on the National HIV/AIDS Registry.
DOH Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Rosario Vergerie earlier defended the slash on the next year’s budget for communicable diseases explaining that the DOH is not going to procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and GeneExpert Cartridges used to test tuberculosis, covid, hepatitis, and HIV but Garin pointed out that prevention and control of communicable diseases do not only mean purchasing PPE and test cartridges.
“Maganda ang health promotion nandyan ang policy development, positive building advocacy maganda naman po ito pero babalik ulit tayo sa mas importante ba yung health impact assessment and action research kaysa salbahin natin ang kalusugan ng ating kababayan,” Garin lamented.
In the recent budget briefing of the House Committee on Appropriations co-chaired by Garin, Vergerie said that the DOH proposed a P95 billion Covid response budget for 2023, but only P24.98 billion was approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The lady lawmaker claimed that the COVID response budget is “too low” considering that the DOH themselves admitted that they are not looking at the end of the pandemic as of this time because the country does not have a high population immunity as the “wall of immunity” the country had after the first primary series vaccine was affected by the Omicron sub-variant and have already waned.
Based on the assumptions of the health experts that by this time towards the end of the year, there would be an increase in the admission to the hospital because of the low Covid booster rate, Garin appealed to the DOH that this is not yet the time to be complacent as the virus would still mutate.