The Philippines' health department is set to lose P14 billion in its annual budget for 2019, Health Secretary Francisco Duque confirmed Friday, amid the rising number of measles cases in the country.
Speaking to radio DZMM, Duque said the budget department had initially proposed to cut P31 billion from the health department budget, which was then slashed down to P14 billion. "Malaki po 'yan (It's big)," he said.
He said the Department of Budget and Management had pointed out that the health department still had pending projects for completion including the construction of thousands of barangay health stations.
"We can't blame DBM for making the budget cut because the condition is to clean up all those pending projects before adding to the budget," he explained.
Last year, the health secretary blew the whistle on alleged irregularities in the P8.1-billion Barangay Health Station (BHS) Project envisioned to build some 5,700 barangay health stations all over the country. Only 270 units have been completed as of 2018.
House committee on health chairperson Angelina Tan earlier said the Department of Health in 2015 approved a P7-billion contract for building 5,000 BHS.
In the interview, Duque said the health department is providing a list of priority projects for its heath facilities and enhancement program including hospitals that do not have enough equipment and facilities that are at least 90 percent finished.
The DOH is currently fighting several measles outbreaks in Luzon and the Visayas including Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, and Central Visayas,