Health workers call for restoration of DOH’s P10 billion budget cut

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
Health workers call for restoration of DOH�s P10 billion budget cut
The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) trooped to Congress yesterday as the House of Representatives started its plenary deliberations on the DOH’s 2024 budget.
STAR / Miguel De Guzman, file

MANILA, Philippines — A group of health workers is calling for the restoration of the P10-billion cut in the Department of Health (DOH)’s budget as well as the P1.7-billion cut in specialty hospitals and P2-billion budget cut for the Philippine General Hospital for next year.

The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) trooped to Congress yesterday as the House of Representatives started its plenary deliberations on the DOH’s 2024 budget.

“The proposed 2024 health budget does not reflect what President Marcos Jr. has boasted of. It clearly indicates deprivation of the much-needed public health services that the Filipino people wanted,” the AHW said in a statement.

It added that inadequate hospital allotments are killing poor patients, making health workers further overworked and underpaid.

Health workers also asked to realign the P10-billion and P500-million confidential and intelligence funds of the President and Vice President and instead allocate these funds to public hospitals, health workers’ salaries and other social services.

“The 2024 proposed budget does not allocate salary increase for ‘modern-day heroes,’ like the health workers who have wholeheartedly served during the pandemic and until now. Salary increase is justifiable as inflation and prices of basic commodities and utilities are continuously increasing,” Cristy Donguines, a nurse and president of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-AHW, said.

Health workers also appealed to legislators that the DOH budget amounting to P27.9 billion for the purchase and allocation of drugs, medicines and vaccines be directly allocated to the 69 DOH hospitals as part of their maintenance and operating expenses to avoid annual wastage of medicines and supplies stored at the DOH warehouse.

There should also be mass hiring of health workers with permanent positions in public hospitals instead of hiring contractuals and job orders to prevent migration of health workers, according to the AHW.

“We also demand to fill the 19,850 vacant positions at the DOH and convert these positions instead as doctor, nurse and other health workers’ positions doing direct patient care in the public hospitals,” Edwin Pacheco, president of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute Employees Association-AHW, said.

“The unresolved problem of chronic and severe understaffing will eventually lead to the closure of public hospitals and collapse of the entire public health care system,” Pacheco added.

Warning on Nipah virus

Meanwhile, the DOH has advised the public to immediately consult a primary care facility once they experience signs and symptoms associated with the Nipah virus.

Among the symptoms observed in those infected with the Nipah virus are fever, headache with changes in sensorium, cough and difficulty of breathing, according to the DOH.

The DOH also noted that Nipah virus could spread through direct contact with infected animals, such as bats or pigs, or their bodily fluids, such as blood, urine or saliva.

“Consuming food products that have been contaminated by bodily fluids of infected animals, such as palm sap or fruit contaminated by an infected bat, can result in infection with the Nipah virus,” it said.

The agency likewise said that close contact with a person infected with NiV or their bodily fluids, including nasal or respiratory droplets, urine or blood, is another way to spread the virus.

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