A nurses organization said Tuesday it was dismayed over the Department of Health’s new allowance scheme for pandemic frontliners based on their risk level classification.
This developed as Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 Response Vivencio “Vince” Dizon supported the recommendation of Senator Christopher “Bong” Go to give incentives to pharmacists who will administer COVID-19 booster shots under the “Resbakuna sa Botika” initiative.
The National Task Force Against COVID-19 will expand the pharmacy-based inoculation to Baguio City on Wednesday, Dizon said, as he promised to bring up Go’s proposal with the Department of Health and the National Vaccination Operations Center.
However, Filipino Nurses United (FNU) president Maristela Abenojar said on ANC’s “Rundown” program: “We believed that our nurses and health workers have been shortchanged.”
“Instead of finding additional funding for the benefits due for our health workers, they tried to reduce the budget such that they have compromised the health workers’ health and safety,” Abenojar said.
On January 20, the DOH said the special risk allowance and active hazard duty pay would be replaced with the One COVID-19 Allowance, which the agency described as more inclusive and responsive.
Under the agency’s Administrative Order 2022-0001, those considered high risk or directly catering to COVID-19 patients will receive P9,000 per month; moderate risk or working in a health facility will be given P6,000; and low risk or no direct contact with COVID-19 patients will get P3,000.
But Abenojar said her group already opposed last year the DOH’s proposal of a singular allowance.
“We strongly denounce the proposal for a one singular allowance now known as One COVID-19 Allowance for the health workers because we feel that this gives little regard to the selfless work and sacrifices exerted by our health workers in this time of pandemic,” Abenojar said.
Meanwhile, Senator Go said he was supportive of the measure that seeks to grant continuous benefits to Filipino healthcare workers.
“Consistent with my pronouncements before, for as long as it is viable on the part of the government, we must advance the welfare of our HCWs who are considered the heroes in our current fight,” Go, chair of the Senate health committee, said.
He also called on the Executive department to work together, particularly the Health Department and government finance managers to thoroughly study the matter and make sure funding sources can be made available.
“A thorough study on this is necessary to know how much funds needed and where to get them,” he said.
Reporting to President Rodrigo Duterte during the Talk to the People Monday evening, Dizon said the NTF would help accelerate the rollout of booster shots in Baguio City amid the rising COVID-19 cases there.
“Because many vaccinators are getting sick, we will initially open two pharmacies in Baguio City,” Dizon said in Filipino.
Last week, the NTF launched the “Resbakuna sa Botika” in Metro Manila, which aims to bring the Covid-19 booster shots closer to the public by making drugstores vaccination sites for booster jabs.
Among the participating pharmacies in Metro Manila include Mercury Drug, Watsons, The Generics Pharmacy, Generika Drugstore, Southstar Drug, and Rose Pharmacy.
Private clinics such as QualiMed and Healthway also participated in this initiative under the “Resbakuna sa Klinika.”
Dizon described the pilot run a success, replicating this initiative in other parts of the country.
The NTF reported that some 2,242 booster shots were administered during the two-day pilot run of “Resbakuna sa Botika at Klinika” in
the National Capital Region.
“I think the success of the pilot of the ‘Bakuna sa Botika at Klinika’ shows us the way forward,” Dizon said.
“We have pharmacies in all corners of the country. This is really the way forward.”