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Funding for hiring of emergency health personnel assured in ‘Bayanihan 2’

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Sunday assured there is sufficient funding for the hiring of additional emergency health personnel and contact tracers under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2.

Sen. Sonny Angara
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Angara, who chairs the Senate finance committee and led the bicameral conference committee meetings for the measure, said Bayanihan 2 was crafted primarily to ensure that the government’s programs against the COVID-19 pandemic will continue, thus, a big chunk of the budget will go to the health sector.

“The hiring of additional health personnel, as well as the special risk allowance and benefits for our health workers, were promised by President Duterte and these are all reflected in Bayanihan 2,” Angara said in a statement.

“Our health system is under so much pressure already and we need to recognize all of the sacrifices our health workers are making at this very challenging time,” he stressed.

Under the Bayanihan 2, P40.5-billion would go to health-related programs, which includes P13.5-billion for the continuous employment and hiring of emergency human resources for health (HRH); augmentation for operations of Department of Health (DOH) hospitals; special risk allowance for private and private workers; free life insurance, accommodation, transportation and meals for health workers and compensation for health workers who contract the COVID-19 or die while fighting the pandemic.

DOH earlier admitted it needs to hire more healthcare workers to expand the government’s response to the pandemic, particularly in the regions, provinces, and cities that manage coronavirus cases.

Compensation given to health workers stipulated under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act or Bayanihan 1 will be continued in Bayanihan 2.

But on top of the P100,000 cash to be given to those who contract severe COVID-19 and the P1-million cash aid for the family of those who died while fighting the disease, P15,000 would also be provided for those who would have mild or moderate cases.

Angara adds a total of P3-billion is also provided in Bayanihan 2 for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, gowns, shoe covers, and face shields for distribution to health workers, barangay personnel and for the poor who couldn’t afford to buy.

In support of local industries, the Bayanihan 2 also gives preference for the procurement of PPEs made in the Philippines, the senator said.

According to Angara, the measure also allocates a total of P4.5-billion for the construction of temporary medical isolation and quarantine facilities, field hospitals, dormitories for frontliners and for the expansion of hospital capacity across the country.

It also includes funding support for the upgrading of the existing biosafety laboratory of the Bureau of Quarantine and the renovation of its temporary quarantine facility.

Another P4.5-billion would also be appropriated for the construction and maintenance of isolation facilities, including billing of hotels, food and transportation used for the COVID-19 response.

Also, P5-billion is allocated under the Bayanihan 2 for the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) hiring of 50,000 contact tracers.

“We have heard from the different members of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) that we still need more contact tracers, and isolation and quarantine facilities. We need to take a holistic approach in battling COVID-19.

“Hindi pwedeng nagtetest ka lang tapos wala kang (It’s unacceptable if you just underwent testing then there’s no) contact tracing, isolation and quarantine. All of these components are crucial,” the senator said.

The Senate approved the bicameral conference committee report last Thursday, August 20.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/08/23/funding-for-hiring-of-emergency-health-personnel-assured-in-bayanihan-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=funding-for-hiring-of-emergency-health-personnel-assured-in-bayanihan-2)

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