Unlike DOH programs with lower funds, drug rehab gets boost

Funds for the DOH's drug rehabilitation program nearly doubles in its proposed 2019 budget, while other programs ensuring the allocation of health centers and health workers are clipped

Sofia Tomacruz

Published: 2:4 PM September 6, 2018

Updated: 2:32 AM September 6, 2018

HEALTH CHIEF. DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III at a Senate hearing on the department's Barangay Health Stations project in July 2018. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – While majority of programs in the Department of Health’s proposed 2019 budget were allocated considerably lower funds, the same could not be said for its drug rehabilitation program, which saw its budget nearly double for the coming year.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III shared this much as he detailed the DOH’s drug rehabilitation program saw a 41% increase in funds from P818 million in 2018 to a proposed P1.156 billion in 2019. This includes funds from the department’s personnel services (PS), maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), and capital outlay (CO) needed to run the program.

“This is a huge increase compared to the P818,349,000 last year,” Duque said at the Rehabinasyon drug rehabilitation forum on Thursday, September 6.

The DOH recorded a total of 8,662 patients who have graduated from its drug rehabilitation programs from 2016 to July 2018. There is also ongoing construction of 11 drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centers (TRCs) to add to the total of 53 licensed TRCs in the country. (No 'real number' on drug rehab: Here's why)

On the flipside: This comes as several other programs in the DOH were allocated lower funds, such as its Health Human Resources Deployment (HHRD) program, where more than half its funds being clipped may translate to actual job losses among health workers.

During the DOH’s budget hearing at the House of Representatives, Duque warned lawmakers that about 15,012 health workers' jobs would be at risk if lower funds for the program from P9.6 billion in its 2018 budget to around P1.2 billion would be finalized. (READ: Job losses seen under lower proposed DOH budget)

The HHRD is a program that takes care of assigning health workers to rural areas and poor communities. It also assists local government units (LGUs) in paying for the salary of workers when municipalities are unable to do so.

Aside from this, the DOH’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program, which takes care of ensuring there are barangay health stations present in communities also saw a decrease of about P30.3 billion in allocated funds.

The lower funding for these projects, Duque said, would “certainly” impact of delivery of health services.

Under the cash-based budgeting system, the DOH is one of the agencies often cited by lawmakers with “deep cuts” in its proposed 2019 budget. The DOH’s proposed 2019 budget – P74.1 billion – is lower by about P35.7 billion from its 2018 budget of P109.8 billion. – Rappler.com