The House committee on appropriations chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) on Wednesday recommended to the Department of Health (DOH) to remove from its proposed supplemental budget for 2018 the distribution of medical kits to Dengvaxia recipients.
During a briefing by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on the issues related to the Dengvaxia vaccine, Nograles said the DOH should instead focus on the profiling of Dengvaxia recipients.
The DOH led by Health Secretary Francisco Duque was among the agencies called to a briefing by the panel to discuss the proposed supplemental budget for 2018 and the issues on the Dengvaxia vaccine.
The proposed supplemental budget of 2018 is embodied in House Bill 7449 which seeks to appropriate the sum of P1,161,710,000.00 to fund the assistance to Dengvaxia recipients.
The amount is the refund from Zuellig Pharma, the local distributor of the Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, covering the unused vials of Dengvaxia vaccines.
Under the DOH Dengvaxia Assistance Program, the amount of P270 million will be allocated for the distribution of medical kits to Dengvaxia recipients and P300 million for the proposed active case finding (Project-Based Profiling /Navigation) of vaccinees.
Likewise, the amount of P84 million will be allocated for the Medical Assistance Program for Dengvaxia Patients; P776,250,000.00 for Outpatient Care Package; and P67,807,420.00 for Deployment of Nurse – Health Education and Promotion Officers (HEPOs).
“You’re asking us for P270 million for medical kits that contains a thermometer, one mosquito repellant, two bottles of multi-vitamins and a bag. Tatanungin ko ang mga parents na nandito: Kayo ba pag nakatanggap kayo ng medical kit mula sa gobyerono, matutuwa ba kayo?” Nograles said.
One of the representatives of parents of Denvaxia recipients said: “Hindi po totally matutuwa kasi hindi naman yun totally ang kailangan ng mga magulang. Isa lang yun sa kailangan pero hindi yun ang pinaka kailangan.”
Nograles said the P270 million for medical kits already represents 18 percent of the budget which can be put to better use.
Committee vice chairman Rep. Scott Davies Lanete, M. D. (3rd District, Masbate) concurred with the opinion of Nograles that the P270 million for medical kits is practically useless.
Lanete proposed instead that the amount should be saved for active treatment of patients who come to the hospitals with symptoms and signs of progressing dengue.
Under the bill, the amount shall be allocated to fund assistance to the Dengvaxia vaccines. It shall be used exclusively for the following activities and/or projects, namely: Human Resource for Health (HRH) Deployment; Public Health Management; and Assistance to Indigent Patients either Confined or Out-Patient in Government Hospitals/Specialty Hospitals/LGU Hospitals/Philippine General Hospital/West Visayas State University Hospital.”
The amount appropriated shall be released by the DBM to the DOH in accordance with budgeting, accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations.
The bill seeks to mandate the DOH to issue the guidelines necessary for the proper implementation of the foregoing activities and/or projects for the benefits of Dengvaxia vaccinees.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) represented by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno expressed its full support for the proposed budget to address the needs of Dengvaxia vaccinees.
However, Diokno said the full amount may not be fully utilized in 2018 and he recommended to the panel that in the crafting of the proposed special appropriation, it should be made effective on the date it is approved until the end of fiscal year 2019.
He told the panel the whole amount may not be exhausted if the provision stating the fund shall be utilized by December 31, 2018 is included in the bill.
“You may have to appropriate the residual in the 2019 budget. The way the 2019 budget is emerging, we are actually having a hard time accommodating all the requests,” he said.
The bill is authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Nograles.