Budget cut jeopardizing employment of 7,000 gov’t nurses – Recto
MANILA, Philippines — More than 7,000 public health nurses may are in danger of losing their jobs due to looming cuts in the budget of the Department of Health (DOH), Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto bared Thursday.
In a statement, Recto said this was due to the proposed P9.39 billion cut in the budget of the DOH from P97.65 billion this year to P88.26 billion in 2020.
“7,107 public health nurses ang nangangambang mawalan ng trabaho sa susunod na taon. Kasing dami ng mga isla sa ating kapuluan,” Recto said.
‘Nation of dismissed nurses’
“If not reversed, it will turn us into an archipelago of dismissed nurses. It is a kind of hospital discharge that is the unkind,” he added.
Recto said one of the major programs to be severely affected by the budget cut is the Human Resource for Health Deployment Program (HRHDP).
Recto said that the HRHDP has a 2019 budget of P12.37 billion which will be drawn from the DOH (P8.5 billion) and from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (P3.8 billion).
Recto said that HRHDP has a 2019 budget of P12.37 billion.
He added that a “measly” P2.45 billion was proposed for HRHDP under the DOH budget for 2020 which he said was “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,” he noted.
“‘Possible,’ because the release is subject to conditions, and not automatic,” he added.
Recto said the P2.45 billion under the DOH budget would 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,” he said.
“Under this best scenario, 7,107 nurses will still be given pink slips next year,” he pointed out.
Nurses wouldn’t be the only healthcare professionals expected to be affected by the budget cut, Recto said.
“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” he said.
“Ganun din sa mga medical technologists, mula sa 597 na kasalukuyang naka-deploy to zero in 2020,” he added.
This would mean that 10,921 health personnel employed under the HRHDP may lose their jobs, Recto said.
UHC standards, threats
Recto said that to retain 26,389 health workers, funds for the HRHDP for 2020 should be increased to P16 billion.
This, Recto added, would require adding P6.55 billion to the program’s P9.45 billion indicative budget.
Recto underscored that health professional deployment and dispersal program is a vital cog of the Universal Health Care (UHC) 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,” he said.
“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,” he added. /gsg
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