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DoH to get P7.5B for immunization program

THE Department of Health (DoH) will have a total of P7.54 billion for its national immunization program in 2020 to prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases, Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said on Sunday.

The senator, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, said under the program, vaccines would be administered for free to everyone, including children and pregnant women.

The vaccine-preventable diseases are diphtheria, influenza, hepatitis B, measles, meningitis, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), poliomyelitis, rubella, tetanus, tuberculosis and yellow fever, which is a potentially deadly flu-like disease spread by infected mosquitoes.

“Kung anuman ang kulang pa, sabihin sa amin ng DoH (The DoH should inform us if it is still not enough),” Angara said.

“Pero hindi nangangahulugan na dagdag-pondo kaagad. Baka pwede, lipat-pondo within the budget of DoH (But it does not mean immediate additional fund. Why not realign the budget within the DoH)?” he added.

Angara noted that the Health department had allotted P650 million for advertising. He said this amount could be rechannelled in support of the vaccination drive.

About 2.7 million infants will be given vaccines against tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, rubella, influenza and polio.

Two million of these infants will be given flu shots.

The Department of Education would be part of the program through the administration of vaccines against tetanus, diphtheria, measles and rubella to 2.4 million Grade 1 and 1.9 million Grade 7 students.

Some 2.7 million pregnant women will be given anti-tetanus vaccines, while 2 million flu shots and 500,000 units of pneumonia vaccines will be made available for the elderly.

There are other health crisis that the DoH has to take into account such as the outbreak of dengue and polio, which would require additional funding to address.

The proposed P160-billion budget of the Health department has already been taken up at the committee level and will be subject to further scrutiny during plenary debates on the 2020 national budget next month.

During the plenary debates, senators would be allowed to introduce their respective amendments, which could mean augmenting or reducing particular items in the proposed budgets of the different agencies.

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