DOH adjusts health workers’ allowances | Inquirer News

DOH adjusts health workers’ allowances

INSIDE THE COVID WARD Health-care workers remain busy at a dedicated facility of the Philippine General Hospital. —RICHARD A. REYES

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday said it would replace the special risk allowances now being given to health-care workers (HCW) with another one, called One COVID-19 Allowance (OCA), which it described as “more inclusive and responsive.”

“We are working hard to make certain that all our healthcare workers are well-taken care of by providing them with benefits that will recognize their efforts in fighting through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.


No salary increase

“Benefits, which have been previously enjoyed by a limited number of HCWs—active hazard duty pay for public health workers; meals, accommodation and transportation allowance; and the special risk allowance, for HCWs directly catering or exposed to COVID-19 patients—shall be discontinued and replaced by a more inclusive and responsive OCA,” the health agency said.

But the DOH, according to Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, has not even fully complied with Malacañang’s order last year to increase the basic salary of government nurses by at least P3,053 a month.


Defensor said in a statement that many nurses in Quezon City hospitals, including those working at the state-run Veterans Medical Memorial Center, had not received their pay increase.

He said the DOH should compel hospitals to follow the June 1, 2021, memorandum of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, upgrading the position and compensation of nursing personnel.

“Most nurses in public hospitals, including those in local government units throughout the country, should be receiving additional compensation of P3,053 to P6,075 a month,” he said.

He urged noncompliant agencies to start complying this month and pay their personnel a salary differential for six months because the Malacañang order was effective June 1 last year.

Losing nurses

“Unless we assure our nurses a higher standard of living here at home, we are guaranteed to lose a larger number of them in the years ahead,” he said, adding that about 19,000 nurses leave every year to work abroad.

According to the DOH, the OCA shall be distributed pro rata to all health workers involved in the COVID-19 response depending on their COVID-19 exposure classification.

The DOH said P1.08 billion was allocated in the General Appropriations Act of 2022 for the sickness and death benefits of HCWs who contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty.


The OCA, on the other hand, has an allocation of P50 billion in the 2022 budget but only P7.9 billion has been tagged for the purpose and that fund was classified “for later release.”

“Considering the expected high number of eligible health workers, the DOH is constantly in coordination with the Department of Finance to ensure that the remaining P42 billion currently lodged as unprogrammed funds will be prioritized to ensure the implementation of the OCA until the state of national emergency has been lifted,” the DOH said.

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TAGS: DoH, health care workers, medical frontliners, nurses, nurses allowance
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