The problems concerning our healthcare sector that were exposed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic shall remain high up in the list of priorities of Partido Reporma standard-bearer Ping Lacson even as the nation shifts its attitudes toward the plague.
In a press conference held last Thursday during their visit to Sorsogon, Lacson said he wants to provide better funding for the Department of Health (DOH) on top of the Department of Education, which always receives the lion’s share of the national budget in accordance with the Constitution.
The reasoning behind this is the Universal Healthcare Act of 2018 (UHC Law) that Lacson wants fully implemented under his administration. For it to happen, the government has to provide at least P257-billion to achieve its target of providing free and better healthcare services for the Filipinos.
“Dahil mag-tra-transition na tayo from pandemic to endemic, bigyan natin ng pansin ‘yung Department of Health. Ang budget ng Department of Health sa 2022 nasa P268-billion. Pero kung mag-fu-full investment tayo sa universal healthcare, ang kailangan doon P257-[billion],” Lacson said.
[Because we are going to transition from pandemic to endemic, we need to pay attention to our Department of Health. The DOH has a budget allocation of P268-billion for 2022. But if we’re going to invest fully in universal healthcare, we need an additional P257-billion.]
Lacson explained that the P268-billion budget of the DOH is only intended for the current fiscal year. It does not cover the funding necessary for the UHC Law, which seeks to usher in massive reforms in the healthcare sector such as making hospitalizations and medical services more affordable to all.
“Ang pangunahing kasama sa aming plataporma, siyempre, hindi natin pwedeng iwanan ‘yung (Part of our main campaign platforms, of course, is not to abandon) health kasi ang (because) COVID-19 is the new normal. Whether it’s pandemic or endemic, we should always prepare for the next pandemic,” according to the presidential aspirant.
Lacson sees the UHC Law as a vital tool to help him prepare the healthcare sector against the threat of future pandemics as he envisions every public hospital and rural health units in the country equipped with the basic medical facilities and medicines for the benefit of Filipinos.
This is part of the future-proof policies and strategies, Lacson wants to apply under their administration, which they designed precisely to address and withstand ongoing, recurring and emerging challenges on their firm belief that there is no trade off between health and economy.
These plans are also tied to their flagship Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) program that aims to devolve certain state-funded projects to the local government units towards the promotion of the social and economic well-being of their constituents.