By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

(PNA photo by Yancy Lim))

MANILA – The Marcos administration is asking Congress to approve the utilization of about PHP20 billion for health emergency allowance and Covid-19 compensation package.

The proposed budget was included in the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Tuesday.

“A separate PHP20 billion will go to the health emergency allowance and Covid-19 compensation package for both eligible health care and non-health care workers,” the DBM said in a statement.

The DBM said the allocation is part of the proposed PHP875.6 billion for the provision of medical care and support to underprivileged Filipinos.

It added that some PHP18 billion will also be allotted to the National Health Workforce Support System for health workers in remote and depressed areas.

Medical assistance

The DBM also noted that the National Health Insurance Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) will receive a PHP101.5 billion to subsidize the health insurance needs of eligible recipients under the 2024 NEP.

It said the utilization of the budget will benefit some 12.75 million indigents under the National Household Targeting System; 8.26 million senior citizens under Republic Act 10645 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010; 136,030 unemployed persons with disability; 15,683 financially incapable point-of-service patients; and 25,512 PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) beneficiaries.

“In addition, the amount of PHP22.3 billion will be available to extend medical assistance to 1.31 million Indigent and Financially-Incapacitated Patients,” it said.

It said there would also be an allotment of PHP8.3 billion for family health and responsible parenthood programs.

Around PHP7.1 billion of the PHP8.3 billion will be earmarked for immunization, PHP750 million for family planning and reproductive health, PHP212 million for oral health and PHP176 million for nutrition, the DBM said.

Cancer care, non-communicable diseases

The DBM said the government is also seeking the allocation of PHP1 billion worth of Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) for the continued medical assistance of cancer patients enrolled in 31 cancer control access sites nationwide.

“The fund is higher by PHP500 million compared to the FY (Fiscal Year) 2023 GAA (General Appropriations Act) due to the increasing number of enrolled cancer patients nationwide. The provision for the CAF shall fund outpatient and inpatient cancer control services, including but not limited to therapeutic procedures, and other cancer medicines needed for the treatment and management of cancer and its care-related components,” it said.

“It will serve 6,666 patients enrolled in 31 cancer access sites to augment financial support for cancer diagnostics and laboratories not covered by PhilHealth, at an average cost of P150,000 per patient,” the DBM added.

The DBM said around PHP1.707 billion would also be allocated for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

Mental health, proper nutrition

The DBM said the government will likewise help Filipinos suffering from the psychiatric effects of the pandemic, allotting PHP683 million to fund various products to bring relief to the mental health of around 124,246 patients.

It said hunger and nutrition issues, especially among the young population, will be addressed through the implementation of the Philippine Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Project of the Health and Social Welfare departments that will get a funding of PHP2.8 billion.

The project will consist of a comprehensive package of nutrition interventions to reduce stunting in some 235 municipalities.

“Another nutrition campaign, the School-Based Feeding Program, will be allotted PHP11.7 billion to provide hot meals and other food products for 220 days, and milk for 55 days, to malnourished students from Kinder to Grade 6,” the DBM said.

“Furthermore, the Supplementary Feeding Program will have PHP4.1 billion to provide supplementary hot meals to 2 million children enrolled in LGU (local government unit)-managed child development centers and supervised neighborhood play groups. This program aims to ensure the essential nourishment of children in their critical, early years,” it added.

The DBM said around PHP1.9 billion will be used for the pilot run and implementation of the Philippine Food Strategic Transfer and Alternative Measures Program (STAMP), another project to mitigate hunger and nutrition benefitting 50,000 of the most food-poor households. (PNA)