Decrease in health budget worries solon

A PARTY-LIST representative yesterday expressed alarm at the dwindling budget for the health sector.

“Compared to the 2010 total allocation for the health sector, the proposed budget for 2011 is lower by P1.4B, from P40B in 2010 to only P38.6B in 2011. This in itself belies what the President said in his budget message about increasing the health budget,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño.

“Capital outlay for the 12 major hospitals under the DOH and 55 public hospitals nationwide have been removed and lumped together in a lump sum for use at the discretion of the Secretary. Also, Maintennance, Operating and Other Expenses (MOOE), which is the lifeblood of public hospitals, have been substantially reduced, sometimes at more than 50%,” revealed Casiño.

He said the budget for specialty public hospitals, like the Lung Center, Kidney Center and Heart Center was slashed by P970.6M. Even the budget for Philhealth premiums for indigents, which stood at P5.17B in 2010, was slashed by more than a billion to only P3.5B for 2011.

Casiño added that there were also significant decreases in the budgets for “Subsidy for Indigent Patients for Confinement or Use of Specialized Equipment (P36M to P16M), “Operations for Health Centers for Health and Development” (P2.5B to P2.27B), and “Family Health Including Family Planning” (P1.4B to P931M).

“Given all the ‘slash and burn’ going on in the health sector budget, I am very much worried that the state of public health under the Aquino administration will be much worse,” he said.

Casiño also expressed apprehension that given the budgetary cuts for health centers, the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program would be a waste of money. “We will give the poor monthly cash dole outs for them to go to the health centers and yet we will not be funding these centers properly. Unless we spend more on these health facilities, the CCT program will not lead to better health for the poor,” he stressed.  D’Jay Lazaro

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