Press Release
October 10, 2019

7,107 nurses to lose jobs due to budget cuts

7,107 public health nurses ang nangangambang mawalan ng trabaho sa susunod na taon. Kasing dami ng mga isla sa ating kapuluan.

If not reversed, it will turn us into an archipelago of dismissed nurses. It is a kind of hospital discharge that is the most unkind.

This is the effect of the proposed P9.39 billion cut in the budget of the Department of Health (DOH), from P97.65 billion this year to P88.26 billion next year.

(Proposed total DOH budget for 2020 to include 1 attached agency; and subsidy to 1 corporation, 4 specialty hospitals and to PhilHealth is P160.15 billion, still P9.3 billion lower than this year's P169.45 billion.)

One of the major programs to be severely affected by the budget cut is the Human Resource for Health Deployment Program or HRHDP.

This year, HRHDP has a total budget of P12.37 billion - P8.5 billion with the DOH, plus P3.8 billion drawn from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), a DBM-controlled funding warehouse for personnel services expenditures.

For 2020, a measly P2.45 billion is proposed for HRHDP under the DOH budget, a deep P6.05 billion cut.

There is, however, a pledged augmentation of P7 billion from the MPBF. Adding the two will bring to P9.45 billion the possible funding for HRHDP. "Possible," because the release is subject to conditions, and not automatic.

The P2.45 billion under the DOH budget will only cover the continued employment of 3,854 nurses, out of the 17,293 deployed this year. Add the 6,322 nurses to be funded by MPBF and the potential total comes up to 10,186 hired and rehired in 2020.

Under this best scenario, 7,107 nurses will still be given pink slips next year.

Hindi lang nurses. Wipeout din ang ilang dentista, from the current 202 to zero next year. Maraming mga rural health units ang magiging bungal sa pagbunot sa serbisyo ng kanilang mga dentisa.

Ganun din sa mga medical technologists, mula sa 597 na kasalukuyang naka-deploy to zero in 2020.

Lahat-lahat, tinataya ng DOH na 10,921 na health personnel who are currently employed by the program ang masisisante sa 2020. This is equivalent to 4 in 10. A plague-like 40 percent casualty rate.

Upang mapigilan ang pinakamalaking health sector endo sa kasaysayan, and to retain 26,389 health workers, kailangan itaas to P16 billion ang pondo ng HRHDP para sa 2020.

This will require adding P6.55 billion to the program's P9.45 billion indicative budget.

We have to do this because the health professional deployment and dispersal program is one of the lynchpins of the Universal Health Care program. Thus, the UHC should be launched with a great leap forward in the number of doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives, medical technologists and other health workers to unserved and underserved, poor and far-flung areas.

The budget cut, however, points to a great retreat.

The usual pretext of absorptive and procurement problems on why the cuts have to be inflicted, and why critical personnel have to be excised from the communities they serve, does not apply in this case.

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