2020 DOH budget cut may cause job loss to 10,000 workers, Recto warns

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Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto

Because of the huge cut in the 2020 budget allocated for the Department of Health (DOH), more than 10,000 workers from the Human Resource for Health Deployment Program (HRHDP) could be jobless next year, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto warned. 

According to him, aside from 7,107 nurses, some 202 dentists and 587 medical technologists might also lose their jobs. 

“This is equivalent to 4 in 10 [health workers], a plague-like 40 percent casualty rate,” Recto said. 

The DOH is in preparation for the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) law the following year, by which this concern came out. 

The senator mentioned that HRHDP should be given P16 billion in order to retain 26,289 health personnel. This comes along with the necessity to add P6.55 billion to the P9.45 billion indicative budget for the program. 

For 2020, the health department’s proposed budget is P160.15 billion — lower than the P169.45 billion fund in 2019.

HRHDP was designed to support the major health workforce over the entire country. However, it will only be receiving a budget of P2.45 billion for next year, which is about 1/3 of 2019’s P8.5 billion.

DBM to tap MPBF to raise HRHDP budget

Meanwhile, the Department of Management’s (DBM) is planning to boost the program’s budget through the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF). In 2019, the said fund provided P3.8 billion for the health agency. MPBF will also release P7 billion, which could raise the fund the HRHDP budget to P9.45 billion. 

However, Recto noted that this is still  “subject to conditions and not automatic.” 

“The P2.45 billion under the DOH budget will only cover the continued employment of 3,854 nurses, out of the 17,293 deployed this year,” he said.

“Add the 6,322 nurses to be funded by MPBF and the potential total comes up to 10,186 hired and rehired in 2020,” Recto added.

The senator stressed that raising the funds for the DOH is essential for the country to avert from turning into  “an archipelago of dismissed nurses.”

Since the HRHRP is a “lynchpin of UHC”, Recto also pointed out that adding budget to the program is a must. 

“[T]he UHC should be launched with a great leap forward in the number of doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives, medical technologists and other health workers to unserved and underserved, poor and far-flung areas,” he said. 

On the other hand, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the budget was not finalized yet, and the DBM still has ongoing talks about it.  

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