Tell it to Sunstar: Increase the DOH 2020 budget

Gertrude Isabel M. Vicedo

WE write to express our disapproval of the cut in the proposed budget of the Department of Health (DOH) 2020, as granted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The recent DBM decision to restore P9.2 billion from the P16.6 billion they slashed from the DOH’s budget affects every Filipino, from medical professionals to the youngest of patients. Aside from the severe problem of diseases, such as polio and measles reemerging in our country and the Universal Health Care Bill being signed into law (Republic Act 11223), the lack of financial support for government hospitals and health workers add to the reasons why restoring only a part of what was cut from the initial budget of DOH is insufficient to alleviate the medical problems in our country.

A lot of public hospitals in the Philippines have inadequate funds to accommodate and give proper care to the growing number of patients. Patients in those hospitals share beds or even lie in make-shift beds due to the lack thereof. Three out of 10 health centers in the Philippines lack access to basic hospital necessities, such as clean toilets and proper ventilation. Some of the equipment and materials in health centers in the marginalized sector in the country are inferior to the ones in the wealthier sector, making it unfair for low-income families to get equal medical attention that is similar to the families who can afford private health facilities.

Medical workers and health professionals are also affected by the decrease in the DOH’s budget. Reports state that over 10,000 health workers could lose their jobs, with more than 7,000 of them being nurses, because of the insufficient funds allotted for Human Resource for Health Deployment Program. There are already hospitals that are understaffed and taking jobs from the medical personnel that we have left would only aggravate the situation.

Thus, the DOH should be prioritized and be granted the same budget as before the P16.6 billion cut, or the budget should be increased. The increased budget will improve the situation of the flawed healthcare system. The distribution of the budget should give importance to the health of every Filipino, since it is their right to receive quality medical care. Allocating enough funds for DOH will provide better health care for Filipinos, and see to it that everyone has access to the nearest medical facility where they will be taken cared of and properly treated.