Budget Watch

DOH seeks additional P10 billion budget to improve health facilities

Bonz Magsambol

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DOH seeks additional P10 billion budget to improve health facilities

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque lll on September 3, 2018 during the agency's budget hearing in Congress. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler


Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says the reduced budget of the health facilities enhancement program will affect the government's COVID-19 response and the implementation of universal health care

The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, September 18, asked lawmakers for an additional P10 billion budget for its health facilities enhancement program (HPEF) as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

Heath Secretary Francisco Duque III appealed to lawmakers to support their request during the House deliberations on the DOH’s proposed 2021 budget.

Duque said the DOH submitted an original proposal of P45 billion for HFEP but only P4.7 billion was approved in the 2021 National Expenditures Program (NEP) for both equipment and medical transport, while P1.5 billion was allocated for infrastructure projects under the unprogrammed funds.

“As the consequences of the reduction, our goal in COVID-19 response and implementation of the universal health care will be significantly affected with delays in functionality, licensing, and accreditation of the needed heath care facilities due to lack of infrastructure and equipment,” Duque said.

“We appeal for the support the House of representatives in augmenting the approved budget in the National Expenditures Program for HPEF with an additional P10-billion budget,” he added.

Duque said that this would address the concerns raised by lawmakers over the lack of hospitals in areas where they are most needed.

During the House budget deliberations on Monday, Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor said that Boracay, for example, doesn’t have a healthcare facility for first-aid needs of residents and tourists.

“In case someone gets sick in Boracay, is there a small district hospital there for first aid? None. So what is the health facilities enhancement program for?” Defensor asked. (READ: Lawmakers: We need more hospitals in areas where they are most needed)

Defensor also questioned the measly allocation for barangay health centers in some areas in the country for 2021, with a number of cities and municipalities allocated a measly P100,000 for their HFEP.

“We have to look into this…. Majority of that will be around P100,000 to P200,000, how far can that get us?” Defensor asked.

As the country battles the coronavirus pandemic, the DOH is seeking a bigger budget of P203.74 billion in 2021. This is 27% higher than in 2020. – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.