The P2.5 billion being set aside in the 2021 national budget by the Department of Health (DOH) for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines will not be enough for the Filipinos who will need it, according to Marikina Second District Rep. Stella Quimbo.
According to the lawmaker, the DOH will need at least P12 billion.
"Siguro ang pinakamalaking concern na nakita ko is 'yong napakaliit po na budget para sa bakuna. P2.5 billion lang po ang nakalaan para sa vaccines at sa halaga po na P641 sa kada vaccine, ang lumalabas po 3.9 million lang ang puwede pong mabigyan ng libreng bakuna, so napakaliit po kumpara sa unang statement po ng pangulo na at least 20 million Filipinos ang dapat pong makinabang dito po in terms of free vaccine." said Quimbo.
"Napakaliit po kumpara sa naunang statement ng pangulo na at least 20 million Filipinos ang dapat makinabang in terms of free vaccines."
This means the budget for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines will need an additional P10 billion.
Quimbo also pointed out that the DOH also failed to prioritize budget for mental health especially at this time of the pandemic.
"Hindi nila iniisip na ngayon may pandemya ang daming nawalan ng trabaho, ang daming may anxiety, ang daming may depression, ang daming stories na may nagpapakamatay na kabataan. It's really because of social distancing, napaka-limited interaction with really taxes our mental health," said Quimbo.
Quimbo said the DOH only asked for an P84-million budget for mental health.
"I was shocked to find out . . . Ang sabi nila P615 million. At that point nagalit ako. Bakit ganu'n? It's only half of the 2017 budget at that time wala pang Mental Health Act. As it turned out 2 nights ago, ang sabi nila P84 million pala ang nakatalaga for mental health. That's less that P1 per Filipino," said Quimbo.
"Isang malaking concern din ito matapos ng bakuna. Tingin ko po d'yan we need to increase that to P1.5 billion."
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri acknowledged Quimbo's concerns.
The budget for the coronavirus vaccine will be crucial for the country to return back to normal.
"If we need to add budget for that, dadagdagan po natin ang pondo n'yan. Siguro mag-uusap kami ni Sen. Sonny Angara 'yung ating chairman on committee on finance and I'll let them know the concerns of Ma'am Stella kung kulang pa ang ating budget sa bakuna," said Zubiri.
"Bakuna talaga ang No. 1 ang kailangan nating pondohan for this coming year."