• Melo Acuna

2021 budget's dismal appropriation for health services noted

Proposed 2021 budget’s no guarantee for adequate health care

MANILA – A group composed of religious and labor leaders today expressed fears the proposed 2021 budget does not guarantee sufficient health care for the poorest of the poor and those severely affected by COVID-19.

In a statement released today, the Church People-Workers Solidarity (CPWS) said research group IBON noted the increase in budget for infrastructure “amid the worst health crisis and economic decline in the country’s history.”

The Church-based advocacy group said the budget has prioritized infrastructure, debt and militarization over health and other social services, agriculture and industry. They pointed out the P1/1 trillion or 24% of the total budget for the “Build, Build, Build” program compared to with the P212.3 billion for health, P454.1 billion for social protection and P5.1 billion support for micros, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

It said the propose budget prioritizes debt-servicing and military expenditure amounting to P740.6 billion over a minimal DOH budget of P131.7 billion which is barely one-fifth of one percent (0.2%) of the total infrastructure spending.

The quoted IBON which further said the proposed P212.3-billion health budget is bigger than last year’s allocation, with appropriations for facilities enhancement, epidemiological surveillance, laboratories, research, information technology and human resource capacity management, were all reduced when the country’s health system, public health system solely needs a boost.

Significant reduction was noted in the epidemiology and surveillance program, from P115.501 million to P112.631 million, as well as in the operations of national laboratories to P289.330 million from P326.330 million.

The group said the proposed 2021 national budget for the operations of national reference laboratories remains a glaring evidence of unexplained budget cuts from P326.339 million to P289.330 million.

The group claimed the proposed 2021 national budget has not prioritized the country’s health concerns with the small portion of the national budget earmarked for health care.

The statement signed by San Carlos Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza said a Catholic vision of health care promotes a healthcare system rooted in values that respect human dignity, protect human life, respect the principle of subsidiary and meet the needs of the poor and uninsured, specially the unborn children, pregnant women, immigrants and other vulnerable populations” according to the United States Conference of the Catholic Bishops.

They added the growing inequality in health care is due in part to the State’s abandonment of duty to protect and provide adequate health services.

“In a time where the country is hit by the worst health crisis and economic meltdown, the country needs to prioritize health and social assistance to the most vulnerable sectors of society. Amid economic hardships and massive unemployment, the poor needed not only charity but also justice,” Bishop Alminaza concluded.

The 61-year-old prelate sits co-chairman of the Church People-Workers Solidarity with Kilusang Mayo Uno Chairperson Elmer Labog. (Melo M. Acuña)

San Carlos (Negros Occidental) Bishop Gerardo A. Alminaza, co-chair of the Church People-Workers Solidarity. (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)

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