DOH: Aid for COVID-19 affected medical frontliners delayed by fund sourcing
MANILA, Philippines — The compensation for healthcare workers who died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or have become severely ill because of it, was delayed as the government had to look for funds.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, public and private health workers who contract severe COVID-19 infection in the line of duty are entitled to P100,000, while families of those who died from it could get P1 million.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Thursday explained that the Department of Health (DOH) had to look “thoroughly” in its budget to find funds for the compensation, which have to come from the department’s reallocated and realigned budget.
The DOH added that it also explored other sources of funds, such as funds from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS), however, they later learned that it would be difficult.
“Ating inexplore ‘yung mga iba’t ibang posibilidad para magawa itong mga sinasabing provision na ito sa batas kaya medyo tayo ay natagalan,” she told reporters in an online media forum.
(We explored other possibilities to comply with the law that’s why we were delayed.)
So far, 32 healthcare workers were reported to have succumbed to COVID-19 while 79 others became severely or critically ill because of the disease.
The DOH has so far reallocated P100 million of its budget for the compensation for healthcare workers, Vergeire revealed.
The department had to source it from its medical assistance fund and budget for programs whose implementation will be rescheduled by the latter part of the year.
Vergeire assured that the budget for DOH’s priority programs such as vaccination drives, family planning, among others, are intact.
It was earlier learned that none of the families of medical frontliners who died of COVID-19, as well as those who got severely ill, were given compensation yet, much to the dismay of senators.
Vergeire said the guidelines for the implementation of the Bayanihan law, which will be in the form of a Joint Administrative Order from DOH, Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Budget and Management, will be signed by the department heads within the day.
The DOH had also contacted the families of those left behind by deceased healthcare workers but was only successful to get in touch with the kin of 16 out of the 32 deceased health workers.
Of the number, nine were already informed of the documentary requirements to get the compensation.
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