Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Tuesday expressed concern over the proposed P10 billion budget cut for the Department of Health (DOH) in the 2024 national budget.
Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, stressed the importance of prioritizing the budget towards pandemic recovery and being prepared for any possible future health crisis, highlighting that the health-care system needs to be robust and ready to handle not only the lingering pandemic but also any possible health emergencies.
In an interview after assisting indigents in Tanay, Rizal, Go lamented, “For whatever reason, nabawasan po ng P10 billion ang budget ng DOH for next year.” Go was referring to the National Expenditure Program for 2024 currently being deliberated in the lower house.
He stressed the need to continuously invest in the health-care system, and recalled a previous instance where he opposed a budget cut to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
“Bago pa magpandemya, hindi ako pumayag na binawasan ang budget ng RITM. Pinadagdagan natin, ni-restore natin ang budget nila at dinagdagan pa natin. Kutob ko lang ‘yun, wala pang pandemya nu’n. Wala pang Covid-19. Bakit mo babawasan ang RITM? ‘Yun pala, tama ang kutob ko, ‘yung opisinang ‘yun ang napakalaki ang papel nung kasagsagan ng pandemya dahil doon nag-conduct ng test para sa Covid-19,” recalled Go.
Go also highlighted the importance of the Cancer Assistance Fund, stating, “Nagdagdag tayo ng P1 billion noong 2023, ‘yung sa Cancer Assistance Fund for cancer treatment facilities…ito po ‘yung mga ginagamit sa cancer patients natin sa treatment assistance nila. Pursuant to Republic Act No. 11215.”
The Cancer Assistance Fund will also receive a P1 billion funding under the proposed 2024 national budget.