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Health workers demand higher health budget in 2022, increased pay

/ 12:28 AM November 17, 2021
Alliance of Health Workers protest at the Senate

In a protest at the Senate on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, members of the Alliance of Health Workers complained that, despite being hailed as heroes, their salaries remained small. (Photo from the Alliance of Health Workers)

MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) staged a protest in front of the Senate on Tuesday to demand a higher allocation for the health budget in 2022 and an increase in the pay of public health workers.

“The actual DOH budget allotment for the Office of the Secretary under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) is only P157 billion. This budget is a manifestation of the government’s insincerity to resolve the pandemic,” Benjamin Santos, the AHW secretary-general, said in a statement.

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“Likewise, the non-prioritization of health in the national budget appropriation is a gross and criminal neglect of the Duterte administration to ensure people’s health during this health crisis,” he added.

The health workers also noted that the current DOH budget did not address issues of the country’s health human resources like low salaries and job security. Such issues, if adequately address, would bring about quality health care for patients during the pandemic, the workers said.

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“For almost two years now, we health workers are at the forefront risking our life and safety in fighting COVID-19 pandemic and many from our ranks have died due to the virulent virus,” Santos said.

“We are being called heroes but [have] never been truly valued because until now our salaries remain low. It is even more disheartening that apart from the unpaid and long overdue COVID-19 benefits, the DOH and the Duterte government intentionally did not allot funds for our COVID-19 benefits for the year 2022,” he added.

The AHW also reiterated that it was “unacceptable” that the Duterte administration cut the maintenance and other operating expense (MOOE) and provided zero budget for the capital outlay of four government-owned hospitals and 78 DOH hospitals, including the Philippine General Hospital, the biggest COVID-19 referral hospital in the country.

On the other hand, the group welcomed the Senate’s move to defund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) — reducing its budget from P28 billion to P4 billion and realigning the funds for the health workers’ COVID-19 benefits and crucial pandemic response programs.

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TAGS: 2022 health budget, AHW, Alliance of Health Workers, Department of Health, DoH, salaries of health workers
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