Group Proposes “Doable” Alternative 2010 Health Budget

Judging from the proposed 2011 national government budget for health, the administration of Benigno Simeon Aquino III does not believe that improving healthcare is a priority. The P 32.028 billion budget of the Department of Health is a far cry from the World Health Organization recommended 5% of the gross national product, which is around P 440 billion. In fact, compared to the 2010 budget, Aquino’s 2011 health budget has decreased much of the funds for basic services.

Health Alliance for Democracy believes that a health budget that addresses the most urgent health needs of the people must be provided for now. A more realistic health budget should be allocated for the spiraling incidences of dengue and other infectious diseases, and deteriorating hospitals.

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HEAD is calling for a P 90 billion health budget for 2011 instead of Aquino proposed budget. A 90 billion-peso budget makes it feasible to work for immediate remedies to the most pressing health problems, while paving the way for more long-term solutions. This alternative P 90 billion health budget is broken down as follows:

– P 40 billion for improving the public healthcare delivery system, particularly the state of public hospitals. These funds can be used to improve and upgrade their equipment, and ensure sufficient medical supplies and medicines in their pharmacies.
* All 12 DOH retained hospitals should each get P 1 billion
* All 55 public hospitals nationwide should each get an average of P 500M

– P 25 billion to fund health human resource maintenance and development.
*P 10 billion for the full implementation of the Nursing Act of 2002 and the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers
*P 7 billion for proposed increase in salaries of government physicians, nurses and other health personnel, including a P3000 increase in the base pay of all government health workers
*P 8 billion for opening additional tenured positions for doctors (3,000), nurses (8,000), and other health personnel in government hospitals and healthcare centers

– P 25 billion for preventive and public health programs, and health promotion
* P 5 billion for infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, dengue, malaria, HIV/AIDS
* P 5 billion for the implementation of the National Drug Policy and for drug regulation and promotion of rational drug use
* P 5 billion for reproductive health and safe motherhood
* P 2 billion for non-infectious diseases
* P 2 billion for health research (initial fund)
* P 500 million each for oral/dental health and mental health (initial fund)
* P 2 billion for nutrition programs (supplementary)
* P 3 billion for promotion of other primary health care programs

This alternative health budget highlights the current major areas of concern: lack of healthcare services, loss of health personnel, and the need to focus on preventive aside from curative care. It also confronts chronic health problems: high maternal mortality, prevalence and recurrence of infectious diseases, and high prices of drugs.

There are sources to fund this alternative budget. Aside from re-allocating existing funds, one key source is the P 80 billion increase in debt payments. There is also an estimated P 170 billion if government eliminates corruption and billions more in if government collects unpaid corporate taxes.

No Filipino should ever be deprived of health services because he/she has no money. No Filipino should ever succumb to disease simply because there is no healthcare facility nearby. Women should not die of something so natural as pregnancy and child-delivery.

The alternative health budget being proposed by HEAD is meant to ensure that the right to health is guaranteed and fulfilled by the Aquino government. It challenges the current policy of healthcare privatization and the corporatization of government hospitals.#

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