Press Release
September 17, 2018


In the face of the threat of 15,000 health workers losing their jobs due to massive budget cuts in the Department of Health's (DOH) proposed 2019 budget, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday vowed to fully restore the health department's budget for next year.

In a statement issued coinciding with the Senate's hearing of the DOH's proposed 2019 budget, Hontiveros raised concerns regarding the deep budget cut in the department's Health Human Resources Deployment (HHRD). She said that the HHRD's lower funds would undermine the country's effort to realize universal health care for all Filipinos.

"This is a massive setback in our goal to provide our people universal health care. A significantly lower budget for the DOH's HHRD would mean less doctors, nurses, dentists and midwives to be deployed to rural areas and poor communities. Less health workers means less health services. Less health services means less opportunities for Filipinos to lead healthy lives," Hontiveros said.

It was reported that from a P9.6 billion budget for this year, the DOH's HHRD program for 2019 was slashed to around P1.2 billion. DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III warned that this may result in the loss of about 15,012 health workers' jobs.

Hontiveros, who is the Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, vowed to fully restore the DOH's proposed 2019 budget, including its budget for its Health Facilities Enhancement Program. She asked Duque to submit to the Senate a list of the DOH's "priority among priorities", giving her commitment to restore the budget for health projects that are about to be completed and for the purchase of equipment that would upgrade the level of care of many health facilities.

"Sa panahon ng kagipitan, ang kalusugan ng mamamayan ay hindi dapat mapabayaan. Walang tigil na nga ang mga sakuna ng mamamayan sa bagyo, matataas na presyo ng bilihin at dagdag na pagbubuwis, huwag naman sana pati sa kapos na serbisyong kalusugan ang mamamayan ay magtiis," Hontiveros said.

The HHRD is a DOH program that takes care of assigning health workers to rural areas and poor communities. It assists local government units (LGUs) in paying for the salary of workers when municipalities are unable to do so.

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