House health panel examines proposed P240 billion, or 4% of 2022 budget, for DOH, PhilHealth

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PHOTO COURTESY: HELEN TAN FB PAGE

Officials of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) took turns today to brief the House Committee on Health on their budget for Fiscal Year 2022.

The Duterte administration is proposing a P240-billion pandemic war chest for 2022, which is equivalent to 4% of the proposed P5.04-trillion national budget.

Quezon Representative Angelina “Helen” Tan and Chairperson of the health panel said that the “budget briefing comes against the backdrop of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s statement that there would be no reenacted budget for next year and commitment to pass the proposed P5.024 trillion national budget by the end of September.”

She explained that the briefing intends to facilitate the expeditious approval of the budget within the timelines set by Speaker Velasco and to look into the details and dimension of the proposed budget for the DOH and PhilHealth.

Echoing the World Health Organization’s guidance on health financing policy that focuses on strengthening health system resilience along with health security and universal health care (UHC). Tan remarked that the “types of actions and adjustments needed to support the response” must be guided by the immediate spending actions that must be taken with existing budgets: securing the necessary budget for the COVID-19 response through revisions to finance laws; accelerating budget execution and funds release to frontline services: ensuring rapid access to COVID-19 services for all those who need it, irrespective of ability to pay; and strengthening the core of the health system even as the immediate response takes priority.

Secretary of Health Francisco Duque during his presentation said that the P242.22 billion budget is 65 percent for the Department of Health-Office of the Secretary (DOH-OSec) and 33 percent for PhilHealth, which is 14 percent higher than its current 2021 level.

Duque highlighted the DOH budget priorities for next year, which include Universal Health Care (UHC) Act related programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) and COVID-19 initiatives including assistance to local government units (LGUs) for the full devolution in line with the Supreme Court’s Mandanas Ruling.

Priority will particularly be given to health systems strengthening and population-based and primary care service provision. The DOH will also prioritize the deployment of 23,357 human resources for health like doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, pharmacists, nutrionist-dietitians, medical technologists, and physical therapists with priority in low income, high poverty, and Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA).

The Secretary of Health announced the P18.39 billion funding for infrastructure and procurement of medical equipment for health facilities such as barangay health stations, rural health units, polyclinics, LGU hospitals, DOH hospitals, mega health centers and other health care facilities with prior in low income, high poverty, and GIDA areas.

He said that the DOH targets the full completion of projects under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) in 2022 and the provision of medical assistance for 1.5 million indigent patients.

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