THE Department of Health (DoH) is proposing a budget of P242.22 billion for next year, of which most of the items will go to COVID-19 response.
In the budget deliberation at the House of Representatives, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the slight increase in the budget was due to several factors such as the allocations for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program.
From P7.8 billion in 2021, the HFEP will be getting P19.5 billion next year.
Funds for the COVID-19 Laboratory Network increased from P124 million to P5.1 billion in 2022 while the budget for the Procurement and Supply Chain Service rose from P486 million this year to P1.9 billion next year.
“This increase in fiscal space will enable us to address the health system gaps in the national and regional levels and help us capacitate our LGUs to do the same in the hopes of not only effectively managing current and future pandemics, but also in keeping with our Universal Healthcare aspirations,” Duque said.
Under the proposed DOH budget, P157.03 billion will go to the programs of the DOH-Office of the Secretary; P510 million to the National Nutrition Council and Philippine National AIDS Council.
Specialty hospitals such as Lung Center of the Philippines, the National Kidney Transplant Institute, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center and the Philippine Heart Center will be getting a total of P75.96 billion.
Meanwhile, House Committee on Health chairman Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan questioned the absence of funding for additional testing facilities in the proposed budget.
Tan asked why there is no specific funding for molecular labs or purchase of equipment for the creation of additional laboratories for next year.
“Napansin ko lang po doon sa COVID-related activities natin for funding, nakita ko po na mayroon si commodities, which is P5.9 billion. Can you clarify, wala pong funding for the establishment of additional molecular labs?” Tan said.
Tan underscored the importance of having additional testing facilities, especially amid the emergence of more transmissible variants of the coronavirus.
However, Duque said the budget for testing commodities will be provided allotments for government and hospital-based laboratories.
During the budget deliberation, the DOH reported that P308 million out of the P311.8 million released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the special risk allowance (SRA) of healthcare workers were already released.
“Out of the P311 million, P308,181,207 was disbursed to various health facilities which include private and LGUs., Out of the P308 million, which was transferred to LGU and private hospitals, P115 million was actually received by those facilities,”DOH director Larry Cruz said.
Cruz added that out of the P115 million received by these facilities, a total of 1,264 out of the 20,208 targeted health workers have already received their SRA.
In a statement, the DBM said funds for the SRA were sourced from the miscellaneous personnel benefits funds and unprogrammed appropriations under this year’s P4.5-trillion national budget.