The Alliance of Health Workers, a national organization of health workers and its allied services, has warned that the huge cut in the 2018 budget of the Department of Health will force public hospitals to generate income for their operations by collecting higher fees from patients.
“This will lead to corporatization/privatization of public hospitals and eventually the entire health care system,” the AHW said.
Robert T. Mendoza, RM - AHW National president, said the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses budget of the public hospitals was cut down by P1.5 billion.
The total budget for MOOE for this year is P5.3 billion while the proposed 2018 budget for MOOE was reduced to P3.74 billion.
MOOE covers the budget for medicines, medical supplies, communications, utilities and salaries of contractual employees and other hospital operating budget.
Mendoza said the following public hospitals that will suffer from huge budget cuts for 2018 are the following: Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) - P 144.8 million (56.6 percent) cut; Amang Rodriguez Medical Center – P36.239 million (44.9 percent) cut and Quirino Memorial Medical Center – P42.15 million (34.6 percent) cut.
He said the Regional Medical Centers that will also suffer budget cuts are the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao- P270.8 million (71.89 percent) cut, Southern Isabela General Hospital – P12.435 million (58.8 percent) cut and Region 1 Medical Center, Ilocos – P49.8 million (58.8 percent) cut.
Even the budget for Amai Pakpak Medical Centers in Marawi City was cut down to a P33.3 million (51.75 percent).
Mendoza said that while the government prioritizes budget for Philhealth by increasing the allotment from the 2017 budget of P53.221 billion to 2018 which is P57.127 billion, an increase of P3.906 billion does not mean that all people can have access to affordable medical care.
Mendoza said the budget for Assistance to Indigent Patients amounting P4.3 billion and the Purchase and Allocation of drugs, medicines and vaccines amounting to P15.5 billion are lump sum budget which is centralized at the Department of Health.
“Why not allocate these budgets to the MOOE of public hospitals so that the poor can access the free and affordable health services,” he asked.
Cristy Donguines, president of a health group at Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila said health workers continue to be overworked and underpaid.
She said that in the JRMC Male Surgical Ward, there are only two nurses for every 59 patients while at the Women Surgical Ward, there are also teo nurses for every 64 patients including the stroke unit.
She added that there is no substantial increase in their salaries and no additional personnel vis a vis increase in bed capacity. She also slammed DOH for being “the number one recruiter of contractual, job order and contract of service employees.”
“The point is there are 20,101 unfilled positions for health workers why not filled it up. Lack of hospital personnel equals to poor quality of health services.,” she said.