Frontliners hit new DOH risk pay policy
MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) on Saturday denounced a Department of Health (DOH) policy that determines healthcare workers’ risk level in the performance of their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AHW, in a statement, said DOH Administrative Order No. 2022-0001 (Guidelines for COVID-19 Risk Exposure Classification of Health-care Workers) is divisive and discriminating “as it clearly abandons the health, safety, protection and welfare of the health workers especially during this time of pandemic.”
“Placing a risk classification for health workers in the midst of their fight against the highly contagious COVID-19 is divisive and discriminating. The DOH and Duterte government further avoid providing adequate and equal risk benefits to all health workers [amid scientific findings] disclosing that COVID-19 is airborne and can be transmitted through aerosol transmission,” the group said.
From SRA to OCA
The DOH earlier said that it would replace the special risk allowances (SRA) given to health-care workers with the so-called One COVID-19 Allowance (OCA), which it described as “more inclusive and responsive.”
The OCA shall be provided to all health workers involved in COVID-19 response, the DOH said, adding that it would be equitably distributed among health-care workers, taking into account their COVID-19 exposure classification.
“This considers the type of health facility where they are assigned, work setting and nature of work. Those deemed classified to be high risk will be eligible for P9,000 per month, while those classified as moderate and low risk shall be given P6,000 and P3,000 respectively. The OCA shall also be distributed pro rata,” according to the DOH.
But for AHW, the new administrative order is “unjust and an insult” to all health workers as it differentiates the amount of risk pay each health worker will receive.
“It also devalued the role and sacrifices of the health workers,” it added.
All at high risk
The group stressed that the health agency should give adequate and equitable compensation to all health workers in recognition of their dedication and commitment as they risk their lives serving the people.
“[E]very health worker’s role is greatly valued as they are at high risk, thus there is no moderate and low risk,” it added.
The DOH earlier said that P1.08 billion was allocated in the General Appropriations Act of 2022 for the sickness and death benefits of health-care workers 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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