Nograles implies DOH’s budget cuts didn't affect 2019-nCoV readiness | Inquirer News

Nograles implies DOH’s budget cuts didn’t affect 2019-nCoV readiness

/ 04:46 PM February 04, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles has implied that the budget cuts that the Department of Health (DOH) suffered have nothing to do with the country’s preparation for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Nograles on Tuesday parried questions on whether the government was reconsidering cutting DOH’s budget as the country faces several health issues, but insisted that the trimming only involved barangay health projects.

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“The budget cuts of DOH was mostly […] do’n sa barangay health facilities.  I think that’s a different story because the issue naman there was absorptive capacity, ‘yong underspending, so that’s a totally different issue altogether,” Nograles said during the Pandesal Forum in Quezon City.

According to Nograles, DOH can make adjustments in its budget that would be submitted to the Department of Budget and Management — although that would be for the 2021 General Appropriations Act.

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“Well it’s a budget call right now, for the 2021 budget, and I would believe that the Department of Health would be sending their proposed budget to DBM for vetting, and I’m sure DOH would be taking that into consideration,”

DOH’s proposed budget of P98.6 billion in 2020, part of the current P4.1 trillion budget, was slashed by P10.6 billion.  Among the affected agencies was the Philippine General Hospital, which saw a cut worth P456 million.

READ: PGH budget for 2020 cut by P456M

READ: Funds for health cut by P10 billion

It was eventually approved by the House of Representatives’ committee on health in record time.  President Rodrigo Duterte signed the budget last January 6.

This, despite the fact that the country was then facing problems with dengue fever, measles, polio cases, and the African swine fever although the latter was unproven to be harmful to humans.

The budget cuts have irked Filipino netizens, especially after people were reminded during the Taal Volcano eruption last January 12 that the calamity funds were also trimmed down.  This has forced the government to seek an additional P30-billion supplemental budget for Taal victims.

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As of now, the House committee on health is looking to provide a P1-billion supplemental budget for the government to stem the spread of 2019-nCoV.

READ: Duterte urges Congress to expedite passage of P30-B additional fund for Taal

READ: P1-B supplemental budget for nCoV response sought

This latest coronavirus strain that originated from Wuhan, China, has reportedly downed over 20,000 patients, killing at least 425 — much more than the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome’s death toll in China.  Of the 425, two have been recorded outside China, one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.

DOH said that there are 80 patients being monitored nationwide for showing symptoms of the ailment.

READ: China virus death toll rises to 425, total cases now 20,438

READ: BREAKING: 80 patients now under investigation for new coronavirus – DOH

READ: Coronavirus: What we know about first death outside China

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TAGS: 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, budget, Cabinet Secretary, China, Congress, Department of Health, House of Representatives, Karlo Nograles, Philippine news updates, Senate, Wuhan
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