(OCTOBER 10, 2019) – Over 7,000 nurses and other health workers are at risk of losing their jobs if the proposed cuts on the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) become official, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto warned on Thursday.
The proposed total budget for the DOH in 2020, inclusive of one attached agency, and subsidy to one corporation, four specialty hospitals and PhilHealth, stands at P160.15 billion, a P9.3-billion budget cut from this year’s P169.45 billion.
“If not reversed, it will turn us into an archipelago of dismissed nurses. It is a kind of hospital discharge that is the most unkind,” Recto said in a statement.
The senator said one of the major programs that will be severly affected is the Human Resource for Health Deployment Program (HRHDP), where a measly P2.45 billion is proposed from a P12.37 billion budget this year.
Under the program, doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists and other health professionals are deployed in support to the attainment of universal health care, especially to the poorest and remote areas.
The current HRHDP budget consists of P8.5 billion from the DOH (P8.5 billion) and P3.8 billion from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), a Department of Budget and Management-controlled funding warehouse for personnel services expenditures.
With just under P3 billion for 2020, the HRHDP can get a P7 billion pledged augmentation from the MPBF, which will hike up the budget to P9.45 billion. However, the added funds will still be subject to conditions and is not automatic.
The 2020 proposed budget for HRHDP can only account for the 3,854 nurses out of the 17,293 deployed this year. Should the MPBF funding push through, another 6,322 nurses can be employed the next year.
‘NOT JUST NURSES’
Some 202 dentists and 597 medical technologists will also be affected by the budget cuts.
In total, Recto said 40 percent or 10,921 health personnel currently employed by the program are in danger of being laid off next year.
To avoid what Recto calls as the “biggest health sector endo in history,” the HRHDP budged must be hiked to P16 billion. This will require adding almost seven billion to the indicative budget, assuming the MPBF augmentation proceeds.
“We have to do this because the health professional deployment and dispersal program is one of the lynchpins of the Universal Health Care program,” Recto said. (Randell Ritumalta/JMF)
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