The Department of Health (DOH) is seeking a P73.99-billion budget for its Covid-19 response in 2022, although the Department of Budget and Management approved only P19.68 billion, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Thursday.
During the House appropriations committee’s hearing on the proposed 2022 budget of the DOH, Duque said the 73-percent budget slash for the agency’s Covid-19 response next year would affect the allocations for the allowances and benefits for health workers, including hazard pay, special risk allowance, and meals, among others.
“The budget we proposed last June to the DBM was actually P73.99 billion and the breakdown of that would be for the actual hazard duty pay, the SRA, the meals, accommodation and transportation, and life insurance,” Duque said.
Duque said the budget cut might be due to the projection that herd immunity could be achieved by next year.
“Assuming that there will be about 500,000 to 600,000 doses jabbed per day, the conservative estimate is, we might be able to achieve herd immunity sometime,” he said. “[It can be achieved around the] second month of the first quarter of 2022,” Duque said.
The government initially planned to vaccinate up to 70 million people to achieve population protection by yearend.
However, it adjusted its target from attaining population protection by inoculating 50 to 60 percent of the population with a concentration in Metro Manila, two other cities, and six provinces by yearend.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the country has administered a total of 34.112 million Covid-19 jabs as of September 1.
Of this number, 14.11 million or 18.29 percent of the target population are fully vaccinated.
The DOH will receive a total allocation of P242.22 billion for 2022.