Government spending P9B for added medical services in rural areas

December 10, 2018

A MINDANAO congressman bared yesterday that the national government is spending P9 billion to deploy more than 13,000 health professionals to underserved communities in 2019.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said the Department of Health (DoH) is now enlisting 9,138 nurses, 3,650 midwives, 243 physicians and 241 dentists to provide additional medical services in the rural areas.

“The deployment is expected to proceed even in an extreme scenario wherein the government operates on a re-enacted spending program until February next year,” said Pimentel, a member of the House committee on appropriations.

Of the P9 billion for the Human Resources for Health Deployment Program, Pimentel said P7.8 billion is lodged in the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund, while the balance of the P1.2 billion is with the DoH.

To augment regular staff, the DoH has been contracting extra health professionals every year to serve under the following programs:

• Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB), wherein physicians serve for two years mostly in fourth to sixth-class municipalities that have not had a doctor in the last 24 months;

• Medical Pool Placement and Utilization Program (MP-PUP), wherein physicians and/or medical specialists are deployed to DoH-run hospitals and/or provincial hospitals;

• Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RN HEALS), wherein nurses serve for six months in community rural health units and another six months in public hospitals;

• Rural Health Midwives Program (RHMP), wherein midwives are assigned to barangay health stations and rural health units to provide maternal and child care services, including basic as well as comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care; and

• Rural Health Team Placement Program (RHTPP), wherein dentists, medical technologists, and nutritionist-dietitians are detailed to field health facilities to complement existing personnel.

“We would urge qualified health professionals looking for gainful employment to sign up, so they can help underserved communities while getting paid well,” said Pimentel.

The acquired training from the service would also help qualified professionals land even better jobs elsewhere later on, according to the lawmaker from Mindanao.