By Analou De Vera
The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday, June 4, said that the budget for the compensation of healthcare workers who died or sickened with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is now ready for distribution.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the funds for the compensation of the affected healthcare workers will be coming from the DOH’s Medical Assistance Program.
“Nakapag-identify na kami ng P100 million galing sa Medical Assistance Fund [We have identified P100 million from the Medical Assistance Fund],” said Vergeire.
“Kaninang umaga nakapag-identify na tayo ng pondo galing sa ating funds ng DOH para masuportahan itong P32 million at P100,000 for each of those critical and severe healthcare workers [This morning we have identified the funds from DOH to support P32 million and P100,000 for each of those critical and severe healthcare workers],” she added.
To note, 32 healthcare workers in the country have died due to COVID-19.
Vergeire said that 79 healthcare workers, meanwhile, became severely or critically ill due to the said disease. Under Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” public and private healthcare workers who may develop severe COVID-19 infection must be provided with P100,000. The families of health workers who succumbed while battling the pandemic will receive P1 million.
“Once they [or the relatives] have completed the documentary requirements, we can immediately process the checks since the budget is ready already,” said Vergeire in a Viber message to reporters.
Vergeire said that they experienced challenges in finding the source of funds for the compensation of affected healthcare workers.
“Nakalagay doon sa ating batas, kailangan doon sa reallocated at realigned funds natin kukunin kaya kailangan talaga tayo maghanap. Alam naman natin marami doon sa mga gastusin ngayon kinukuha lang natin sa mga realigned budgets, especially sa mga logistics na pangangailangan natin [As stated in the law, we need to get it in the reallocated and realigned funds. We know that many of our expenses, we just get it in the realigned budgets, especially in terms of logistics that we need],” said Vergeire.
“In summary, ating inexplore yung iba’t-ibang posibilidad upang magawa itong sinasabing provision na ito sa batas kaya medyo tayo ay natagalan [In summary, we have explored various possibilities to implement this provision in the law so…that is why it took us quite long (to implement this)],” she added.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III urged the DOH on Wednesday to immediately provide the necessary compensation to the affected healthcare workers.