MANILA – A lawmaker on Thursday called on the Department of Health (DOH) to increase the funding for the country's prevention and control of communicable diseases amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin made the call after finding out about the PHP4.2 billion budget cut, or about 71.21 percent, in the DOH's disease prevention that has been transferred to the health promotion program.
Garin, a former DOH secretary, said the budget slash is a "wrong move" considering that the pandemic is not yet over.
"We are in dire need of funds and these funds were transferred to the health promotion office and to the blood center and other voluntary blood services. Laudable naman po ang programa pero mahirap po kasi i-explain sa taumbayan na ang tinapyas ng DOH ay para sana sa program ng communicable diseases (The [health promotion] program is laudable, but it is difficult to explain to the public that the budget cut of the DOH is for the program relating to communicable diseases)," she said.
Garin said there are still existing challenges in infectious diseases, and the additional budget could be used to buy medicines or treatments for Covid-19 and monkeypox, as well as other essential health supplies.
In the recent budget briefing of the House Committee on Appropriations, Health Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH proposed a PHP95 billion Covid-19 response budget for 2023, but only PHP24.98 billion was approved by the Department of Budget and Management.
Garin said the Covid-19 response budget is too low considering that country does not have a high population immunity as the wall of immunity the country had after the first primary series vaccine was affected by the Covid-19 variants and subvariants.
Garin appealed to the DOH that this is not yet the time to be complacent as the virus would still mutate. (PNA)