P15.7 billion in health workers' benefits released –DOH

P15.7 billion in health workers' benefits released –DOH
DOH Department of Health

The Department of Health on Sunday reported that over P15.7 billion in benefits for healthcare workers had already been disbursed.

In a statement, the DOH said a total of P15,719,085,923 has been disbursed as of November 26, 2021.

The DOH said the figure was based on the latest statement of allotment, obligation, and balances (SAOB) and was part of the P16,229,088,025.2 total amount disbursed as updated on November 23, 2021, of which the difference is for reconciliation.

According to the DOH, P7,915,760,434 in special risk allowances (SRAs) for 486,585 health workers had been disbursed covering the period December 20, 2020 to June 30, 2021, while P6,555,957,185 was disbursed as SRA and active hazard duty pay (AHDP) last year for 315,652 and 390,662 medical workers, respectively.

The DOH added that meals, accommodation, and transportation (MAT) benefits worth P1,231,098,680 had been received by 103,413 healthcare workers.

The DOH said pending requests for additional SRA funds for batch 5 and 6 would be evaluated by the Department of Budget and Management once releases for the previous batches have been fully disbursed.

Further, the DOH clarified that under Bayanihan 2, the provision of MAT benefits was for the convenience of medical workers and to protect their families who are at risk of getting COVID-19.

While these benefits were originally intended to be provided in-kind or as actual services, health facilities that were not able to disburse these amounts for such purposes, have opted to return unspent funds to the DOH before the year ended to prevent reversion of funds to the treasury. These funds, in turn, were used by the DOH to support other requirements for the pandemic response, the department said.

The DOH also said it was working with DBM and OP to secure funding and appropriate authority to provide the MAT to those who have yet to receive it.

Proposed benefits for HCWs

The DOH also explained that health worker benefits have certain limitations as to their scope and coverage period.

In the case of the AHDP, the DOH said it can no longer be granted beyond December 19, 2020, while the grant of SRA is only until June 30, 2021.

“[U]nder Bayanihan 2, entitlement to SRA has been limited to those directly catering or exposed to COVID-19 patients as clarified by the Department of Justice, thus the said benefit cannot be provided to all healthcare workers,” the DOH added.

With this, the DOH said it supported the passage of Senate Bill 2421 or “An Act Granting Continuing COVID-19 Benefits to Public and Private Health Workers during the Period of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Providing Funds thereof, and for other purposes.”

The measure grants a unified healthcare worker benefit to all private and public health workers based on risk categorization in the spirit of equity. — DVM, GMA News

This article P15.7 billion in health workers’ benefits released –DOH was originally published in GMA News Online.

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