HomeNewsFaith-based group raises concern over Philippines' 'inadequate' health budget

Faith-based group raises concern over Philippines’ ‘inadequate’ health budget

The church group warned that the tiny budget allocation for healthcare and social protection will result in the denial of basic social services to the poor

The Church People-Workers Solidarity, a Philippine faith-based group, expressed concern over what it described as “inadequate” allocation for the country’s health system.

The group noted that the government’s proposed 2021 national budget does not give priority to social services, including the healthcare system.

Catholic Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, the group’s chairperson, said the proposed budget “does not guarantee adequate health care especially to the poorest of the poor.”

While the government allocated at least US$22.6 billion for infrastructure projects, taking 24 percent of the total national budget for 2021, the Health department only got US$2.7 billion, way lower than the US$15.2 billion budget appropriated for debt-servicing and military expenditure.

Independent think-tank IBON Foundation noted that while the proposed 2021 budget for health is bigger than last year’s allocation, allotment for facilities enhancement and human resource capacity, among others, were all reduced in the midst of the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Declines were also registered in the epidemiology and surveillance program of the government to US$2.3 million from last year’s US$2.4 million. The funding for operations of national reference laboratories also went down to US$5.9 million from US$6.7 million.

The Philippines has placed about US$9.3 billion for social protection, including aid to vulnerable sectors during crises and other social services.

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The national budget, however, allotted only US$104.9 million for programs to support micro, small, and medium enterprises that were badly affected by the prevailing health and economic crises.

“The 2021 national budget is glaring evidence that Philippine health recovery is not a priority for the [present] administration as only a tiny fraction of the budget will be allocated for health,” said Bishop Alminaza.

The prelate warned that the tiny budget allocation for healthcare and social protection will lead to further denial of basic social services to the already suffering marginalized sector.

“Consequently, the antithesis or negation of charity is injustice, social exclusion, and marginalization,” he said.

The prelate said the growing inequality in health care is due in part to the State’s abandonment of its duty to protect and provide adequate health services.

“In a time where the county is hit by the worst health crisis and economic meltdown, the country needs to prioritize health and social assistance to the most vulnerable sectors of society,” he said.

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