THE Department of Health said the government needs P12.9 billion for the purchase of vaccines against COVID-19.
DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje made the disclosure during the budget hearing on DOH’s proposed P127 billion budget for 2021 before the House appropriations panel.
“We need P12.9 billion po, pero P2.5 billion po muna ang in-allocate namin kasi po ang scheme, puwede hong loan sa Landbank para macover ‘yung remaining budget requirement. Ang mechanism po, uutang po sa Landbank, the purchase will be made by PITC-Pharmaceutical under DTI. Iyong pambayad, kukunin po sa budget ng DOH in the coming years. Iyan po ang aming proposal ng vaccine procurement,” she said.
Likewise, Cabotaje said the DOH is also in touch with suppliers who are keen on selling anti-COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines once it becomes available and passed regulatory standards of the country’s Food and Drug administration.
The clinical trials for the World Health Organization solidarity trial for possible vaccine against COVID-19 will be held in the Philippines by the end of October, and health officials have said that clinical trials can last up to six months.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has appealed for an additional P10-billion budget for the DOH’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program for the implementation of the Universal Health Care law.
“We are requesting this to address the concerns of several members of Congress on additional support for improving the infrastructure of our hospitals, rural health units, LGU hospitals, health care facilities, as well as military hospitals, especially that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the functionality of our infrastructure and implementation of UHC law,” he said.
Duque said that the DOH submitted a budget of P45 billion for HFEP for 2021 last June, but only P4.7 billion was approved and a P5.5 billion under unprogrammed fund, the release of which is dependent on the government’s “sin tax” collection.
Of the DOH’s proposed P169-billion budget for 2021, P38.9 billion was earmarked for the implementation of the UHC law.
The P38.9 billion is on top of the P71 billion for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, a state-run insurance corporation, for the implementation of UHC law.