Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco T. Duque III championed Universal Health Care during the Committee on Finance Senate Budget hearing today. The DOH and its attached agencies and corporations submitted a 203.74B budget proposal for 2021, 27% higher than its 2020 budget.

In his opening statement, the Health Chief underscored that the nation’s recovery from COVID-19 crisis is heavily dependent on being able to sustain a resilient health system.

“Mas lalong idinidiin ng ating kasalukuyang kalagayan ang higit na pangangailangan na isulong ang ating mga reporma patungo sa Universal Health Care para masigurong protektado at napangangalagaan ang bawat Pilipino. We hope to bring to attention today the key investments we aim to undertake to make enduring changes to our health system.” he said.

The Secretary emphasized the importance of continuing the whole-of-nation approach, and highlighted scaling up the COVID-19 response entails delivering on the UHC promise.

“We need to seize the national transition to the New Normal to bring primary care at the forefront come 2021. Sa ating patuloy na pag-implement ng COVID-19 response, we were able to accelerate our attainment of the UHC, partikular sa pangako ng batas na magkaroon ng isang primary care provider per family, beginning with ensuring that every household has an assigned barangay health emergency response team o BHERT,” he said.

He also stressed that the approval of the proposed budget will set the scaffolding for the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine roll-out next year to prioritize the most vulnerable members of society.

“The Department is scaling up its distribution and service delivery mechanisms. However, if we have to cover the most vulnerable, estimated at 20 million Filipinos, we need P12.9 billion for vaccine procurement. We appeal to our good Senators to prioritize this need to ensure the safety of millions, especially as we continue to reopen the economy,” Sec. Duque said.

In closing, the Secretary committed to the collaborative process of good governance to maximize the Department’s resources in 2021 in support of said objectives. He assured the Senate that the DOH will spare no effort to swiftly and decisively manage and control the current pandemic, just as their counterparts in the legislative department.

“Hinihingi po namin ang inyong suporta sa dalawang napaka-importanteng adhikain na ito–ang primary care at ang bakuna laban COVID-19. Naniniwala po ako na sa pagtutulungan natin, mapaiigting natin ang UHC at tuluyang mapuksa ang COVID-19. Maraming salamat po,” Sec. Duque concluded.