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Over 7,000 DOH nurses to lose jobs due to budget cuts

Senator Ralph Recto warned that over 7,000 nurses working in Department of Health will lose their jobs next year due to lower budged allocation.

Recto revealed that the proposed budget of DOH next year is just P88,26 billion, over P9 billion lower than the P97.65 billion allocated this year.

One of the major programs to be severely affected by the budget cut is the Human Resource for Health Deployment Program or HRHDP. Under the program, nurses and other health workers are sent to rural communities to boost the government’s health program in the grassroots level.

“7,107 public health nurses ang nangangambang mawalan ng trabaho sa susunod na taon. Kasing dami ng mga isla sa ating kapuluan,” 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.

This year, HRHDP has a total budget of P12.37 billion – P8.5 billion with the DOH, plus P3.8 billion drawn from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), a DBM-controlled funding warehouse for personnel services expenditures.

For 2020, a measly P2.45 billion is proposed for HRHDP under the DOH budget, a deep P6.05 billion cut.

There is, however, a pledged augmentation of P7 billion from the MPBF. Adding the two will bring to P9.45 billion the possible funding for HRHDP. “Possible,” because the release is subject to conditions, and not automatic.

The P2.45 billion under the DOH budget will only cover the continued employment of 3,854 nurses, out of the 17,293 deployed this year. Add the 6,322 nurses to be funded by MPBF and the potential total comes up to 10,186 hired and rehired in 2020.

Under this best scenario, 7,107 nurses will still be given pink slips next year.

“Hindi lang nurses. Wipeout din ang ilang dentista, from the current 202 to zero next year. Maraming mga rural health units ang magiging bungal sa pagbunot sa serbisyo ng kanilang mga dentista,” Recto said. “Ganun din sa mga medical technologists, mula sa 597 na kasalukuyang naka-deploy to zero in 2020.”

Overall, there will be 10,921 health personnel who are currently employed by the program will not be renewed in 2020.

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

To stop the ‘biggest health sector endo in history’ and reta retain 26,389 health workers, Recto called for the increase in HRHDP budget to P16 billion next year. This will require adding P6.55 billion to the program’s P9.45 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 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 have to be excised from the communities they serve, does not apply in this case,” Recto added.