Nograles implies DOH’s budget cuts didn’t affect 2019-nCoV readiness
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.