June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Bong Go applauds increased DOH budget

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, commended the collaborative efforts that led to a significant increase in the 2024 budget for the Department of Health (DOH).

The 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA) has earmarked approximately P241.1 billion for the DOH, significantly rising from the initially proposed P199.1 billion in the National Expenditure Program (NEP), highlighting an increase of P42 billion.

As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography and vice chairperson of the Senate Commitee on Finance, Go played a key role in ensuring a sufficient budget for health this year after concerns were raised last year due to a proposed decrease in the health budget.

He expressed his elation over the budget augmentation. “This budget represents hope and improved health opportunities for millions of Filipinos. I am immensely proud that we have managed to secure this for our kababayans,” he stated.

The budget notably includes increased funding for the operations of DOH Regional Hospitals, which has been raised to approximately P50.9 billion in the GAA, up from around P49.8 billion in the NEP.

Furthermore, the Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients (MAIP) program has received a substantial boost, with the GAA allocating nearly P58.1 billion, significantly higher than the NEP’s proposal of about P22.3 billion.

The Cancer Assistance Fund also experienced an increase, with approximately P1.25 billion allocated in the GAA, up from the NEP’s P1 billion and 2023’s budget of P500 million.

The health budget also includes around P20 billion for Public Health Emergency Benefits and Allowances. About P28.6 billion was allocated for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program to improve health facilities nationwide including the establishment of 132 more Super Health Centers that Go has advocated for in the past.

With the significant increase in the health budget, Go further emphasized the importance of effective budget utilizatio and proper implementation of these funded programs.

“With great budget comes great responsibility. Every peso must be spent wisely, with transparency and accountability, to serve the Filipino people especially the less fortunate,” he remarked.

“Unahin natin ang kapakanan ng mga mahihirap dahil sila ang nangangailangan ng serbisyo medikal mula sa gobyerno. Tandaan natin na ang kalusugan ay katumbas ng buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.

He further emphasized the prioritization of the marginalized. “Our primary concern must be the underprivileged — those facing challenges accessing even the most basic healthcare services. This budget increase is a commitment to them, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder anyone’s right to health services,” Go stated.

Go actively advocated for DOH’s budget increase. In a letter dated November 20, 2023, addressed to Senator Sonny Angara, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go outlined specific budgetary requests, emphasizing the need for additional funds across various health and education sectors.

During the budget deliberations, Go also emphasized the significance of the Republic Act No. 11959, or the Regional Specialty Centers Act, a multi-year initiative to decentralize specialized medical services, allowing patients in provincial areas to access advanced medical care without traveling to Metro Manila. He principally sponsored and is one of the authors of the law.

Likewise, the senator stressed the importance of the Malasakit Centers, a key component of his healthcare advocacy. Go is the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which institutionalized the Malasakit Centers program.

Highlighting the critical role of these centers, Go stressed the need to ensure that every patient is assisted and guided accordingly on how to avail of medical assistance, particularly with the increased budget for the MAIP program.

He called for the effective use of this budget to support indigent patients, advocating for an inclusive approach to providing aid without selectivity.

“Dapat walang matanggihan na pasyente considering the substantial increase in the budget we are allocating for the MAIP Program,” he emphasized.

Furthermore, he recalled the commitment made by DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, Jr., during a Commission on Appointments hearing, where the secretary assured that no patient in need would be denied assistance. A department memorandum issued by Herbosa mandates that all patients at Malasakit Centers must receive the necessary services.

To end, the senator called for strengthened efforts in healthcare infrastructure and services, especially in rural and underserved areas.

“We need to bridge the healthcare gap between urban and rural areas. It’s essential that our people, regardless of where they live, have access to quality healthcare facilities,” Go stressed.

He then reiterated his commitment to the health sector. “I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our health system is inclusive, resilient, and capable of addressing the needs of every Filipino. This budget increase is a step in the right direction, but our work does not stop here. We must keep pushing forward,” he affirmed.