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Philippines : Dengue epidemic requires DOH to 'declog its arteries, transfuse funds'.

The fight against dengue is not for DOH alone to wage but for the whole country. One agency cannot win the war. It must be joined by the people.

I welcome the positive steps the DOH has taken to defeat the epidemic. There is no magic pill against the virus. There is, however, a cocktail of solutions, the formulation of which DOH takes a leading part.

For it to perform its role, DOH needs declogging and transfusion operations.

It must declog its funding and logistical arteries. The prime specimen: its end-2018 hoard of undistributed drugs worth P18.5 billion, of which P368 million worth were about to expire.

Next is, whenever legally possible, to transfuse funds from slow-moving programs to the anti-dengue front, including shoring up the capacity of DOH-run hospitals to handle the crush of victims.

Based on the latest COA audit report, DOH seems to be inflicted with a fund malabsorption disease. It cannot have one program suffering from funding overdose while others are hit by budget anemia.

In 2018, it received P109.4 billion in allotments--P103.3 billion was obligated, but only P66.9 billion was disbursed, leaving an unexpended balance of P36.4 billion.

But to be clear about it, many of the headaches of the present DOH leadership were inherited, like the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP). According to state auditors, P4.5 billion worth of HFEP projects were marred by delays, defects, and defaults.

Let us support the DOH in its fight against dengue. But the declaration of a national epidemic is like announcing the diagnosis. Now comes the hard part of battling dengue.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Aug 7, 2019
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