The Department of Health (DOH) is pushing for an increase in funds for the benefits and allowances of health workers next year.
According to the DOH, benefits and allowances of health workers will suffer the most from the cuts in its proposed budget for 2023.
DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire lamented the meager funds allocated to sustain the benefits of all healthcare workers in the country until the end of next year.
Vergeire issued her observation following comments by Quezon Rep. Keith Micah Tan who asked which DOH projects will be most affected by the cuts in its proposed budget.
“We have a list of programs that received lacking funds in the 2023 budget. But primarily, what we are appealing to our Committee on Health and the members of the House of Representatives would be our insufficient budget that was provided for the healthcare workers’ benefits,” she said at the House of Representatives health committee hearing.
“This is the biggest slice of the budget, which was not given to us,” Vergeire said.
Vergeire also appealed to the House panel that the DOH budget for the cancer assistance fund be restored.
Vergeire said the fund was completely taken out by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) from the DOH proposed 2023 budget.
“Previously, we had a line item for the cancer assistance fund at P500 million. We are just set to implement this and now, it was removed from the line item. So we, therefore, appeal to our House of Representative members, the committee on health, if this can be returned because this is part of the law,” Vergeire added.
Vergeire also pointed out another shortfall in the budget allocated for the Epidemiology and Surveillance Program of the DOH.
“These would be the important things that we are requesting from the good congressmen and women here, especially for our healthcare workers’ budget, which totals to around P76 billion for the year 2023 requirement. And also we have arrears of a total of P64 billion, and this is the money that we need so we can fulfill our commitment to our healthcare workers,” she said.
With a budget of P296.3 billion, the country’s health sector is third among sectors that received the highest funds in the 2023 budget proposal of the DBM. It lags behind the education sector, which was given P852.8 billion, and the infrastructure sector, with P718.4 billion.
The DBM earlier stressed that the proposed DOH budget is 10.4 percent higher than the allocation for 2022 – P29 billion of this was earmarked for the procurement of medicines and vaccines, while P19 billion will be used for the salary and benefits of healthcare workers.