Saturday, October 3, 2009

HEAD Statement on the 2010 National Health Budget of the Philippines

3 October 2009

I received by email the following media release from the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) through Dr. Gene Nisperos, Vice Chair of HEAD.  I reproduce it below in its entirety. 

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)

2/F Doña Anita Bldg, 284 E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City

Telefax: (02) 725 4760        Email: headphil@gmail.com


Media Release

17 September 2009


The 2010 National Health Budget: Bigger Numbers, Smaller Value!

Once again, the Arroyo government is shortchanging the Filipino people by allocating a paltry budget that is grossly inadequate.

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) today joined health professionals and hospital workers in a brief rally at the Philippine General Hospital to highlight the inequities of the 2010 national budget and denounce the continuing failure of the Arroyo administration to address the needs of patients and healthcare providers.

“The 2010 health reflects the total abandonment by the Arroyo government of its obligation to uphold the health of the people.” According to Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD secretary-general.

The proposed national budget for 2010 is a whopping P1.541 trillion, which is P115 billion higher than the P1.426 trillion 2009 national budget. While debt servicing again gets the biggest allocation, amounting to some P340.8 billion, the amount allocated for health is only P33.678 billion or 2.2% of the national budget.

Worse, according to HEAD, the numbers are misleading.

“The actual budget of the DOH is only P23.737 billion, almost the same as its budget last year. After considering inflation and peso depreciation, the actual value of this budget is much lower.” added Dr. Rivera. “This translates to 252.49 pesos per Filipino per year, which is not even enough for one month’s supply of an anti-hypertensive or anti-ulcer drug!”

HEAD also noted that the substantial increase in the DOH budget is in the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (P3.2 billion). This, together with another P6.156 billion (25.9%) for capital outlay, is directly associated to the department’s preparation for medical tourism, which it continues to promote abroad.

In contrast, only P16M is allocated for indigent patients in all DOH hospitals. If P2000 is spent on each patient, only around 8000 patients will benefit from this, or less than 0.01% of the population!

Scrutiny also shows that there is still nothing in the budget to keep nurses and health workers from leaving the country in droves.

“Notably absent from the budget is the allocation for the implementation of the Nursing Act of 2002 and the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers. Both laws provide for additional income and benefits for nurses and health workers, measures that would help convince them to stay and serve the patients here.”

Both laws, which may stem the exodus of health personnel, have yet to be fully implemented by the national government.

“The health budget measures how little the Arroyo administration cares for the Filipino people. The poor and the sick have no place in a country under the rule of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This must change.” ###



Dr. Geneve E. Rivera

Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712


Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos

Vice-Chair, 0916 214 5724

I believe that the message that HEAD wants to impart is even more timely now than when the media release was first issued two weeks ago on September 17, 2009.

The devastation wrought by storm Ondoy has few comparison in terms of human loss but in terms of damage to our public hospital facilities in areas like the eastern section of Metro Manila and Rizal, it is probably unprecedented. This throws overboard a lot of the information that was factored into the national health budgeting process and requires new calculations to be made.  

In this article, GMA News reports about the damage sustained by four DOH hospitals namely the Amang Rodriguez Medical Center, the East Avenue Medical Center, the Tondo Medical Center and the National Center for Mental Health.  Worse hit was the Amang Rodriguez Medical Center which serves the needs of approximately 2.6 million people in Marikina, Antipolo, Pasig, Cainta, San Mateo and Rodriguez.

FYI, these are the DOH hospitals listed in the DOH website:

DOH Hospitals

The immense setback to our public hospital facilities can only mean that the figures cited by HEAD mean more today than they did two weeks ago. And this is only in terms of the physical infrastructure alone.  The P16M cited by HEAD with respect to allocation for indigent patients in DOH hospitals is even more horrendously inadequate.

The complexity alone of public evacuation measures in times of national calamities which require evacuation facilities, relief operations, sanitation facilities and public health measures dictate that these factors should be taken into account in formulating the 2010 national health budget. For sure the budget for this type of operations is borne by several government agencies but the capabilities of the DOH in this regard should be considerably strengthened.   

As a nation, we need to join hands to avert a national health disaster.  

For once, the issue of debt servicing which gets by far the biggest chunk of the national budget needs to be thrust into the forthcoming national discussion of election issues.  If we Filipinos want a bigger budget for health, education and other social services, we have to grapple now with the longstanding issue of debt servicing.  To fail to do so would guarantee a continuing abject failure to exact from government even the minimum basic services that our people badly need.


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