Finally, Congress has passed the 2019 national budget in the last day of session, and they restored the Php 7 Billion budget for Department of Health’s program that deploy nurses and other health workers to poor communities.
Lawmakers who were members of bicameral conference committee signed the report on the disagreeing provisions of the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), which gives the government P3.757-trillion budget this year. Senate ratified the said report Friday, February 8, and it is now up for President’s signing.
Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, stated that Human Resource for Health Development (HRHD) was provided additional Php4.797 Billion to restore it to total of Php 7 Billion budget.
HRHD is the health department’s program which deploys nurses, midwives, medical technologists, dentists, pharmacists and other health workers to rural areas and other poor communities in the country.
Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), another DOH program intended for improvement, upgrade, and expansion of government hospitals and health facilities, also got additional funding of Php 16 Billion.
Lawmakers have earlier hit the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the deep cut in DOH budget, with previous allocations of only Php 1.2 Billion for HRHD and Php 50 Million for HFEP.
“Kung hindi naibalik ang mga pondong ito, aba’y matetengga ang mga health units natin at marami ang mawawalan ng trabaho dahil walang pangsuweldo sa kanila ang gobyerno,” said Sen. JV Ejercito, chair of Committee on Health and Demography, and one of Senators who fought for the restoration of the HFEP and HRHD budget.
“I’m happy for our people because of the return of the HFEP and HRHD funds. The more than Php16-billion HFEP budget will be used for the improvement, upgrade, and expansion of gov’t hospitals and health facilities, some are nearing completion already, and for their equipment. Another Php7-billion for Human Resource for Health Development para ‘yun sa suweldo and augmentation ng health workers, nurses, midwives, and doctors,” he said.
He said the facilities would ensure the smooth implementation of the UHC measure, which includes all Filipinos in the National Health Insurance Program as well as brings down to an affordable level the people’s expenses on health services, including but not limited to, check-ups and selected laboratory procedures.
Legarda previously said that they expect President Rodrigo Duterte will sign the budget on February 14.