Issue of September 12, 2021
     
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‘Special risk allowance must cover all health frontliners’
by Harley F. Palangchao

Local government units in the Cordillera are currently submitting to the Department of Health the list of health workers serving in health facilities who will receive the special risk allowance (SRA).

This is after the DOH central office reported it has allotted P311 million for the SRA of health workers from Dec. 1 to June 30, after ranking government officials pressed the agency to respond to the call of concerned health workers.

It was not immediately known when the special allowance release order (SARO) for the P311M from the Department of Budget and Management will be released after President Rodrigo Duterte directed the two agencies to work out the speedy release of the benefits of health workers.

In the Cordillera, the DOH through its Finance Division is working double time for the immediate release of the SRA once the documents have been complied with by the LGUs.

At the Senate, Sen. Bong Go, chair of the Committee on Health, appealed to DOH to study the possibility of expanding the provision of the SRA to all health workers who are serving in health facilities during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Go explained the Bayanihan 2 Act limits the provision of the SRA to health workers who are in “direct contact with Covid-19 patients.”

He, however, said given the number of cases being catered to in hospitals and health facilities, almost all health workers can fall within the scope of the definition. 

Earlier, concerned sectors urged the DOH to ensure the SRA coverage is inclusive.

The DOH disclosed it initially proposed to the DBM a total of P50.4 billion for 365,000 public and private health workers and their Covid-19 SRA, hazard pay, transport, insurance, accommodation or meals for 12 months. 

The SRA has a funding requirement of P18.03B or P1.5B per month for a total of 300,500 health workers.

The DOH budget under the 2022 National Expenditure Program of the DBM includes P3.8B for emergency hiring of human resources in health facilities for Covid-19 response.

Go also reported the inclusion of additional funds in the 2020 budget to provide for the salary increase of public nurses in Nurse I and II positions.


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