Slashing health budget inconsistent with MDGs

Statement of Sen. Pia S. Cayetano

“I share the concerns aired by health workers who warned against the huge cuts made in the proposed health budget for 2011, particularly on the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of public hospitals retained under the Department of Health (DOH). Those affected include several regional and specialty hospitals delivering tertiary medical services to our people.”

“Slashing the operational budgets of these hospitals will ultimately result in the further deterioration of the public health system. Even before the budget cuts, our hospitals already lack the necessary facilities and supplies, medicines and health personnel. This has hampered their capability to deliver quality medical services and respond to public health emergencies, such as the recent dengue outbreak.”

“Many government hospitals have also been charging patients ‘user-fees’ for medical services that used to be rendered for free. So one could only imagine how slashing their MOOEs would further make health services in these hospitals less accessible to our people, especially the poor.

“The budget slash is also inconsistent with President Benigno Aquino III’s recent commitment to stay the course with respect to the country’s targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At the heart of the MDGs is the need to uplift the state of health, education and other social services. Right now, we are at risk of failing in many of our MDG commitments, such as reducing maternal and infant mortality rates. In view of the MDGs, what does the administration expect to achieve in reducing the funding for these public hospitals?

“Slashing the health budget is unacceptable for an administration that purports to thread the righteous path of governance. But there is enough time for Congress to rectify this in the course of the budget deliberations.”

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