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MANILA, Philippines – Of the allocations to the health department, PhilHealth, the national health insurance program of the government, benefited the most from funds obtained from the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
A day after President Benigno Aquino III criticized the Supreme Court (SC) for its decision on the DAP, Health Secretary Enrique Ona enumerated 5 programs and projects that were “improved” through the Department of Health’s (DOH) DAP funds that amounted to P3.39 billion ($77.74 million).
“Because of DAP, we were able to hasten the assistance that our people – especially the poor – needed,” he said in a press conference Tuesday, July 15.
The bulk of it – P1.496 billion ($34.276 million) – went to the health coverage of an additional 2,992,080 indigent families in 2011, Ona said. Most of them are in Central Luzon (575,187 families) and Central Visayas (575,081 families).
The next biggest slice of the pie (P770 million or $17.642 million) went to several DOH hospitals to augment the 2011 Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and Capital Outlay requirements of:
- Lung Center of the Philippines (P105 million or $2.406 million)
- Philippine Children’s Medical Center (P280 million or $6.415 million)
- Philippine Heart Center (P357 million or $8.177 million)
- Women’s and Children’s Protection Unit of 16 DOH hospitals (P17 million or $389,484)
- 12 other DOH hospitals (P10.7 million or $245,157)
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Transition Investment Support Plan in 2011-2012 also received P756 million ($17.322 million) for:
- health infrastructure development
- construction, repair, and/or renovation of 194 health facilities
- procurement of life-saving medical equipment and diagnostic tools in 231 health facilities
- land ambulances (for 21 health facilities)
- sea ambulances (for 10 health facilities)
Through the DAP, the health department said it was able to deploy 11,500 nurses to 1,529 municipalities as part of its RN HEALS (Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service) program.
To improve access to quality healthcare services and to fill in the lack of medical staff in these areas, the department used P294 million ($6.737 million) from the DAP.
Finally, P76 million ($1.742 million) was used as financial assistance to indigent patients in different hospitals. The assistance covered medicines, medical and surgical supplies, and laboratory and diagnostic imaging procedures.
“DAP has indeed helped our people. It gave us the capacity to modernize, supply, equip, rehabilitate not only health facilities. [It helped] augment resources to be able to hire additional health workers our country severely needed at that time and even now,” Ona said.
According to the Department of Budget and Management, the DAP was designed to ramp up spending and help accelerate economic expansion. (READ: Timeline: The rise and fall of DAP)
But on July 1, three schemes associated with the administration-backed program were declared unconstitutional by the SC.
Asked about the effect of the SC ruling on health programs, Ona said they will continue, especially those that have already been awarded. (READ: Understanding the SC ruling on DAP)
“Universal Health Care is not a simple and fast program to implement, but with the expansion in fiscal space provided by the DAP concept, the DOH was able to move at a faster pace than otherwise possible,” he said in a separate statement. – Rappler.com
(US$1 : P43.64)