DOH urged to immediately release benefits for health workers

Health workers from public and private hospitals in Metro Manila stage a picket rally on Tuesday, Sept.6, 2022 at the Department of Health (DOH) Central Office in Sta. Cruz, Manila to denounce DOH "callousness" in promptly releasing their Covid-19 benefits (MANNY LLANES)

The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) has urged the Department of Health (DOH) to fast track the release of benefits for the health workers.

“Two years of pandemic and yet nothing has changed with regards to our appalling condition. The benefits are always delayed and not provided,” said AHW National President Robert Mendoza in a statement.

On Tuesday, Sept. 6, members of AHW staged a rally at the DOH main office in Manila to ask for the prompt release of their Covid-19 benefits.

“It is already Ber months, and yet the promised One Covid allowance starting January 2022 June 2022 is not yet fully released to health workers in the GOCC (government-owned or -controlled corporation hospitals), PGH (Philippine General Hospital), private and LGUs (local government units),” said Philippine Heart Center Employees Association-AHW Acting President Sally Ejes.

Under the OCA, health workers who are identified to be at high risk for Covid-19 are entitled to receive P9,000 per month. Meanwhile, those who are classified as moderate and low-risk will be able to receive P6,000 and P3,000, respectively.

The group also criticized both the DOH and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) “for always pointing on to each other’s incompetence in providing health workers’ benefits and welfare,” adding that the “inefficiency of these two agencies aggravated the health workers’ frustration.”

Last Sept. 2, DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that they already submitted the necessary documents that the DBM was asking for in order to release the funds needed for the benefits of health workers. The DOH and DBM officials also had a meeting regarding this matter, she said.

“So hopefully, in the coming days, we will have the release of funds pagkatapos ng pag-uusap na ito (after the said meeting) so we can already release the funds to our regional offices para sa ating mga (for our) healthcare workers,” Vergeire then said.

Raise salary of health workers

Aside from their unreleased benefits, the group also asked the government to increase the salary of health workers “in order to meet” their family’s basic needs, “especially now that the economic crisis is terrible.”

“The salary remained low and far from the living wage we desire, and still lack of quality PPE (personal protective equipment). When we ask for the salary increase, quality protective equipment and benefits, this government will always say they lack funds or no budget at all. Sagad at ubos na ang aming mga pasensya (Our patience has already run out),” said Mendoza.