MANILA, Sept 20 (Mabuhay) — More than PHP23 billion will be earmarked for the Department of Health’s (DOH) Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), which will upgrade health facilities and services across the country.

In a press statement, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said this amount is included in the proposed National Expenditure Plan (NEP) for 2023.

Of this figure, PHP2 billion will be used for the purchase of medical equipment as well as the construction, rehabilitation, and upgrading of barangay health stations, PHP5.6 billion for rural health units, PHP80 million for polyclinics, PHP2.7 billion for local government unit hospitals, PHP11.2 billion for DOH hospitals, and PHP1.3 billion for other health facilities.

“The funds for the 2023 HFEP are focused on the gaps identified based on the updated Philippine Health Facility Development Plan for 2022 to 2040 that supports the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act,” Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman was quoted saying.

She also emphasized the need to be “prepared for any unprecedented situation and health emergencies.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated our need for a strong health care system that’s why health care will continuously be a budget priority,” she added.

The significant amount of budget to support the DOH’s HFEP is in line with the Marcos administration’s commitment to providing quality and affordable health care for all Filipinos, especially in rural areas.

Under the proposed 2023 NEP, the health sector will receive a hefty budget allocation of PHP296.3 billion, which includes the DOH and Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

Apart from the improvement of health facilities and services, the Marcos administration will allot funds to strengthen the country’s health care system by providing support to the healthcare workforce, research and development, and ensuring affordable and inclusive healthcare.

In his first State of the Nation Address on July 25, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the need for a stronger health care system is “self-evident.”

“We must bring medical services to the people and not wait for them to come to our hospitals and health care centers,” he said.

The plan to bring the health care system close to the people was initiated in the DOH’s Philippine Health Facility Development Plan 2020-2040. (MNS)