Saturday, September 21, 2013
MANILA-The health sector should be the major recipient of rechanneled Priority Development Assistance Fund, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said today.
Recto said PDAF should be “reinvented as a cure for the sick and a medicine for the ailing.”
Specifically, Recto wants a large chunk of the soon-to-be-abolished PDAF to pay for “the chemotherapy of cancer patients, the dialysis of persons suffering from kidney failure, and heart bypass operations.”
“These are all expensive procedures beyond the reach of ordinary people. As a result, people do die from cancer, but secondary only to poverty,” Recto said.
Although at present, lawmakers funnel their PDAF allocations to individual patients in selected hospitals, “these are on a retail basis,” Recto said. “What is needed is the wholesale augmentation of the budget of government hospitals.”
He cited tertiary hospitals like the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and specialty medical centers like the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) which are sieged by patients daily as “worthy recipients of the rechanneled PDAF.”
Recto said Congress can raise the budgets of these hospitals and “treat such move as a collective, block allocation by all congressmen and all senators.”
“For example, Congress can increase the budget of the PGH by P1 billion, thus increasing by 50 percent its proposed operating budget for 2014,” Recto said. “Or it can uniformly add P200 million each to the 14 regional hospitals.”
Among public hospitals in need of budgetary augmentation, according to Recto, are the four specialty hospitals clustered in Quezon City - the Lung, Kidney, Heart and Children’s Centers.
He described as measly the P173 million proposed 2014 subsidy for the Lung Center of the Philippines; the P189 million for the National Kidney and Transplant Institute; the P345 million for the Philippine Children’s Medical Center; and the P372 million for the Philippine Heart Center.
PCMC has reportedly been served a notice to vacate a portion of its property which has been sold by the National Housing Authority to a third party. “Prior to this eviction notice, the PCMC already needed more funds to treat poor kids, especially those battling cancer,” Recto said.
In the case of the NKTI, Recto said 10,000 Filipinos are diagnosed each year with end-stage renal diseases but less than ten percent have the means to sustain dialysis or pay for a transplant.
An epidemic of heart diseases is also taking its toll on the PHC, Recto said. In 2010, 101,000 Filipinos succumbed to cardio-vascular ailments.
“The question is, can we use pork to treat heart disease? The answer is yes.”
Recto said that based on the national budget, government annual per capita spending on health will only be P998 in 2014.
“From whatever angle you see it, it needs to be increased. And the ready reinforcement is provided by the PDAF,” he said.
Recto said a “reconstituted PDAF” can also be used to increase the P4.3 billion that will be set aside next year for the purchase of new hospital equipment.
“It can also be used to increase the drug and vaccine procurement budget of P10.2 billion for 2014,” Recto said.