Low govt priority to health impairs capacity to deal with nCoV

February 4, 2020

by IBON Media

The decreasing share for health in the national government budget shows the low priority given to this, said research group IBON. This affects the country’s ability to address public health challenges such as the novel coronavirus (nCoV), the group said.

IBON said that while the allocation for the health sector in the national budget increased from Php177.7 billion in 2019 to Php185.5 billion in 2020, its overall share in the national budget fell from 4.85% to 4.52 percent. Most of the small Php7.8 billion or 4.4% increase is even eaten up by inflation.

However, the amount allocated for the Epidemiology and Surveillance Program which monitors, investigates and analyzes disease outbreaks was cut by more than half, said the group. This decreased by Php147.4 million from Php262.9 million in 2019 to Php115.5 million in 2020.

IBON also noted that the budget for the health department’s Health Systems Strengthening Program was cut by Php6.6 billion from Php25.9 billion to Php19.3 billion. This program is for ensuring a wide range of human health resources  including doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, allied health professions, community health workers, social health workers and other health care providers and management and support personnel.

The country’s latest doctor-to-patient ratio remains too low at 0.3 per 10,000. This is far below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended ratio of 1-1.5 doctors per 1,000 population, said IBON. ###

Photo credits: Duke Today and Ezra Acayan for Getty Images