DOH budget cut could lead to layoff of over 7K nurses

MANILA — The proposed PHP9.39-billion cut in the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) for 2020 could result in job losses for some 7,107 public health nurses next year, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto warned on Thursday.

Recto said one of the major programs to be severely affected by the DOH budget cut is the Human Resource for Health Deployment Program (HRHDP).

He said the HRHDP has a total budget of PHP12.37 billion for this year while a measly PHP2.45 billion is proposed for the program next year, which entails a deep PHP6.05 billion cut.

“7,107 public health nurses ang nangangambang mawalan ng trabaho sa susunod na taon. Kasing dami ng mga isla sa ating kapuluan (7,107 public health nurses could possibly lose their jobs next year. The number is as many as the islands of our country),” Recto said.

“If not reversed, it will turn us into an archipelago of dismissed nurses. It is a kind of hospital discharge that is the most unkind,” he added.

Recto said the PHP2.45 billion would only cover the continuous employment of 3,854 nurses, out of the 17,293 deployed this year.

He, however, noted that there is a pledged augmentation of PHP7 billion from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), which means that 6,322 nurses could be funded by the MPBF and the potential total comes up to 10,186 hired and rehired in 2020.

The senator warned that the cut would not only affect nurses but also dentists from the current 202 to zero next year and also technologists from 597 to zero in 2020.

Lahat-lahat, tinataya ng DOH na 10,921 na health personnel who are currently employed by the program ang masisisante sa 2020 (All in all, the DOH could potentially lose around 10,921 health personnel currently employed by the program in 2020),” he said.

“This is equivalent to 4 in 10. A plague-like 40 percent casualty rate,” he added.

The Senate leader suggested increasing the HRHDP budget to PHP16 billion in 2020 and requiring the additional allocation of PHP6.55 billion to the program’s PHP9.45 billion indicative budget.

“We have to do this because the health professional deployment and dispersal program is one of the lynchpins of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program. Thus, the UHC should be launched with a great leap forward in the number of doctors, nurses, dentists, midwives, medical technologists, and other health workers to unserved and underserved, poor and far-flung areas,” he said.

“The usual pretext of absorptive and procurement problems on why the cuts have to be inflicted, and why critical personnel has to be excised from the communities they serve, does not apply in this case,” he added.   Filane Mikee Cervantes / PNA –