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Health budget cuts akin to ‘murder’ in the face of dengue epidemic – Anakbayan

September 22, 2010

Youth group Anakbayan today blasted cuts in the proposed 2011 health budget, saying it will worsen the effects of disease outbreaks in the country such as the current dengue epidemic.

“Public hospitals are already having difficulty coping with the dengue outbreak because of low funding. Imagine what will happen if Noynoy’s budget cuts push through” said Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Bañez.

“Those who can’t afford private health care can literally die while waiting in line” said the youth leader, citing the DOH’s self-contradicting ‘express lanes’.

According to the Dept. of Health, 62,503 dengue cases have been reported from January to August of this year. In the same eight month period last year, 33,102 cases were reported. The DOH has admitted that its so-called ‘express lanes’ for dengue patients were affected by a “lack of facilities, supplies, and personnel”.

Meanwhile, according to data from the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), the budget for the 55 government hospitals nationwide would be slashed by P363.7 million next year. The budget for GOCC (gov’t-owned and controlled corporation) hospitals is facing a P970.6 million reduction. GOCC hospitals include the Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney & Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. The University of the Philippines, whose budget includes that of the Phil. General Hospital in Manila, is also facing a P1.39 billion budget cut.

Next year’s proposed budget for health services is at P32 billion, a far cry from the AHW and Health Alliance for Democracy’s (HEAD) proposal of P90 billion, and the World Health Organization (WHO) proposal of an amount equivalent to 5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (equivalent to P440 billion).

Bañez added that the dengue epidemic is ‘merely the tip of the iceberg’ in terms of the sorry state of the country’s health services. Citing data from the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), She said that the doctor-patient ratio in the country is at 1:28,000, while the acceptable ratio is at 1:400.

Walkout against budget cuts

“We are outraged that Aquino will increase funding for the military, pork barrel, and debt servicing at the expense of social services such as health and education” said the Anakbayan spokesperson.

Military spending is set to be hiked from P96 billion to P104 billion, the pork barrel from P10 billion to P24 billion, and debt interest payments from P327 billion to P357 billion. Aside from public hospitals, state universities and colleges (SUCs) will see their funding slashed from P24.8 billion to P24.4 billion.
Bañez said that the 17,000-strong Anakbayan will join the nationwide students’ walkout on Friday to protest the cuts to social services’ spending.

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