DOH wants bigger 2021 war chest

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2020 01:45 PM

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III attends a National Task Force (NTF) on coronavirus event at the Don Alejandro Roces Science High School in Quezon City on Aug. 29, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) is seeking a bigger budget for 2021 for its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and some aides briefed the House health committee on the agency's proposed P203.74-billion budget on Wednesday, before facing the appropriations panel. 

The proposed budget is 27 percent higher than the health department's funds for this year. 

Health officials said target allocations for next year include the following:

  • P10 billion for vaccines, including P2.5 billion worth of coronavirus vaccines for frontliners and indigent senior citizens
  • P4.65 billion for diagnosing, preventing and treating infectious diseases, including P2.67 billion for safety gear and P1.03 for cartridges of GeneXpert machines that detect coronavirus; 
  • Funds for the deployment of 23,364 health workers 
  • Funds for 3,492 scholarship grants
  • P4.68-billion equipment procurement for 1,633 health facilities

The Philippines has confirmed 241,987 coronavirus infections as of Tuesday, of which 52,893 were active.

As the pandemic raged, whisteblowers last month accused PhilHealth officials of pocketing P15 billion in public funds and approving supposedly overpriced programs, which they denied. 

An inter-agency task force investigating the corruption allegations is set to release its report on Sept. 14. 

-- With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News