DOH proposed 2023 budget increases, but funds for PHC, NKTI, other items slashed
MANILA, Philippines — Despite the Department of Health (DOH) getting a higher proposed budget for 2023, several attached offices like the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (PHC) as well as other items saw budget cuts.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday gave a presentation during the House of Representatives committee on appropriations deliberation of their budget, showing that the department got P296.3 billion in 2023 compared to just P268.4 billion in 2022.
However, the funds allocated for the PHC went down from P1.89 billion in 2022 to P1.77 billion in 2023, while NKTI’s budget decreased from P1.63 billion to P1.27 billion. Similarly, the budget for other hospitals and attached agencies decreased, like the following:
- Lung Center of the Philippines (P630 million in 2023, from P684 million)
- Philippine Children’s Medical Center (P1.16 billion in 2023, from P1.50 billion)
- Philippine Institute Of Traditional And Alternative Health Care (P156 million in 2023, from P166 million)
- National Nutrition Council (P401 million in 2023, from P478 million)
In contrast, the budget for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) increased from just P79.99 billion in 2022 to P100.23 billion in 2023. The DOH’s Office of the Secretary (OSEC) budget also went up from P187.84 billion in 2022 to P195.63 billion.
Most of the DOH-OSEC and PhilHealth funds, Vergeire said, would be for the Universal Healthcare program, the COVID-19 response, and the Health Systems Resilience program.
“We are 10 percent higher than the 2022 GAA level; however, for the DOH Office of the Secretary, the 2023 National Expenditure Program is only four percent higher than its previous level. So in the 2023 National Expenditures Program, the DOH-OSEC and its attached agencies were given a total of P301 billion to implement our programs and strategies,” Vergeire said.
“Out of these P301 billion, the majority or 65 percent is allocated to the DOH Office of the Secretary, amounting to P196 billion. The rest of the budget is all ocated to our DOH attached agencies and corporations, which comprises 35 percent of the DOH budget,” she added.
Vergeire also noted that under the DOH-OSEC funds, the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and the Personnel Services allocations increased, from P86.31 billion to P93.24 billion and from P74.51 billion to P78.39 billion, respectively.
MOOE accounts for 48 percent of the DOH-OSEC allocation, while 40 percent goes to Personnel Services. Capital Outlay is at 12 percent, and it decreased from P27.03 billion in 2022 to just P23.99 billion in 2023.
In terms of the top 10 major cost drivers in DOH’s allocation, only two items decreased — the National Health Workforce Support System, which went down from P17.02 billion in 2022 and P16.95 billion in the proposed 2023 budget.
The other item that saw a cut was the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases, down from P10.13 billion in 2022 to just P5.84 billion in 2023.
Just recently, several groups and health workers assailed the proposed budget for DOH as it was allegedly not enough despite the increase. According to the Alliance of Health Workers, DOH supposedly gives priority to PhilHealth at the sacrifice of lowering funds of the government-owned and controlled corporations and hospitals like PHC, NKTI, and PCMC.
Vergeire last September 7 admitted that healthcare workers’ benefits would suffer the most with the budget cuts, saying that they are asking for more funding to support the provision of benefits.
However, the Department of Budget and Management defended the budget cuts to some items under the health sector, noting that the government is in a tight fiscal position which means that they have to properly allocate the budget to different agencies.