Amid polio return, slash in budget of DoH disease research arm decried

September 26, 2019

THE Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) should be recognized for being the key to detecting the re-emergence of the polio virus and be given ample funding.

However its budget for environmental surveillance has been cut from P198 million in 2019 to P118 million for next year, Sen. Nancy Binay lamented.

“Bakit na instead of lauding the RITM for their good work, pinipilay pa natin ang kakayahan nilang tuparin ang mandato nila?” Binay asked.

The senator is pushing for an increase in the RITM’s allocation for environmental surveillance, which she says is critical to addressing vaccine-related diseases such as polio and measles.

During the committee-level budget hearing at the Senate, Binay echoed her support to raise the research arm’s budget.

According to Binay, she will ask other senators to support RITM’s request that their allocation for surveillance be increased to P248 million.

The senator said that the timing of the budget cut is “untimely and unsound” given that besides the polio outbreak, cases of diphtheria have also now been reported.

“Huwag nating hintayin na may dumating pang bagong epidemya, pero hindi natin ito malalaman kung tatanggalan natin ang RITM ng suporta para sa kaukulang surveillance. I believe that cutting their budget is both an untimely and unsound decision,” Binay noted.

According to Binay, the first step to stopping transmission of and preventing possible polio outbreak is to map and survey high-risk communities where health threats are occurring.