By Hannah Torregoza
The Senate finance panel is considering re-channelling some funds in the Department of Health’s (DOH) budget to strengthen the government’s vaccination program.
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said they are open to augmenting the DOH’s budget to boost the government’s immunization drive which a lot of senators noticed “needs its own booster shots.”
For its national immunization program in 2020, the DOH will have a total of P7.54-billion budget. Under the program, vaccines will be administered for free to children, pregnant women, men and women.
More or less 2.7 million infants will be given vaccines against tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, rubella, influenza and polio. Two million of these infants will be given flu shots.
“Kung ano man ang kulang pa, sabihin sa amin ng DOH. Pero hindi nangangahulugan na dagdag-pondo kaagad. Baka pwede, lipat-pondo within the budget of DOH, (If they need additional funds, I hope the DOH should tell us. But that doesn’t mean we will immediately add funds. We may consider transferring funds within the budget of the DOH),” Angara said.
“Sinasabi na nasa P650-million ang advertising budget nila. Baka pwedeng i-rechannel ito sa mga programa na in support of the vaccination drive,(They have a P650-million advertising budget. Maybe we can re-channel these to programs in support of the vaccination drive),” the senator added.
Under the program, the Department of Education (DepEd) would be part of the program through the administration of vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria, measles and rubella to 2.4 million Grade1 and 1.9 million Grade 7 students.
Some 2.7 million pregnant women would be given anti-tetanus vaccines. For the elderly, two million flu shots and 500,000 units of pneumonia vaccines will be made available.
Angara noted there are other developments or health crisis that the DOH has to take into account particularly, the outbreak of dengue and polio, which would definitely require additional funding to address.