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Reduced DoH facilities budget reflects funding focus on gaps in UHC service delivery — DBM

THE P22.994-billion allocation for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) in the proposed 2023 national budget is the result of the priority assigned to the improvement of Department of Health (DoH) hospitals and rural health units to prepare them for the delivery of Universal Health Care (UHC) services, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Monday.

The proposed funding for the HFEP in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) is down 0.32% from its final allocation in the 2022 budget.

DoH hospitals and rural health units will receive P11.2 billion and P5.6 billion, respectively, to acquire medical equipment and build, rehabilitate, and upgrade facilities.

Meanwhile, local government unit hospitals have been allocated P2.7 billion, barangay health stations P2 billion, polyclinics P80 million, and other health facilities P1.3 billion.

“The funds for the 2023 HFEP are focused on the gaps identified based on the updated Philippine Health Facility Development Plan for 2022 to 2040 that supports the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act,” Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman was quoted as saying in a statement.

“We must be prepared for any unprecedented situation and health emergencies. The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated our need for a strong healthcare system; that’s why healthcare will continuously be a budget priority,” she added.

Under the 2023 NEP, the DBM proposed an allocation of P296.3 billion for the health sector, which is a 10.4% increase from the P268.4 billion it was given for this year.

Last week, the DBM also clarified that specialty hospitals, such as the Lung Center of the Philippines, the Philippine Heart Center, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, were not subject to budget cuts in the proposed P5.268-trillion budget for 2023.

The DBM said the decrease in the facilities budget also reflects the comparison of the 2023 NEP total with the 2022 General Appropriations Act, which includes budget insertions and approved by Congress.

“It is likewise important to note that the proposed funds for the four specialty hospitals, as provided both in the NEP for 2022 and 2023, were actually unchanged, if not increased,” the DBM said last week.

The NEP is the proposed version of the budget submitted by the Executive branch to the legislature.

“The DBM yields to the collective wisdom of the honorable members of Congress on whether to increase or decrease the proposed funds of government agencies during the series of budget deliberations and hearings,” the DBM said. — Diego Gabriel C. Robles

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