Transfer ad budget to vaccines, Angara urges DOH
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) should realign some P650 million of its budget for advertising to fund the government’s immunization program amid the outbreak of various diseases affecting children, Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said on Sunday.
Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said a total of P7.54 billion had been allocated for the national immunization program of the DOH for next year.
The huge allocation, he said, would be used to bankroll free vaccination for pregnant women, children and others who needed protection from highly communicable and deadly diseases.
“If the budget is still not enough, the DOH should tell us. But this doesn’t mean additional funds. Maybe we can transfer funds within the budget of DOH,” Angara said in a statement.
“About P650 million was set aside as advertising budget [of the DOH]. Maybe we can rechannel this to programs in support of the vaccination drive,” he said.
The proposed P160-billion budget of the DOH for 2020 had already been approved by the Senate health committee chaired by Sen. Bong Go.
Under the DOH vaccination program, Angara said about 2.7 million infants would be administered with free vaccines against polio, measles, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, rubella and influenza.
The senator said that two million of these infants would also be given with free flu shots.
He said the Department of Education had been tasked with spearheading the vaccination of 2.4 million Grade 1 students and 1.9 million Grade 7 students against tetanus, diphtheria, measles and rubella.
“Some 2.7 million pregnant women will be given antitetanus vaccines while for the elderly, two million flu shots and 500,000 units of pneumonia vaccines will be made available,” he said.
Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo earlier said the DOH had enough money to buy vaccines and implement its national immunization program next year since its budget of about P7.5 billion was not slashed.
Affected by the reduction in the DOH 2020 budget were such programs as the Health Facilities Enhancement Program and human resources for health, Domingo said.
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