MANILA (Mabuhay) – If Health Secretary Enrique Ona would have his way, the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) will not benefit from the incremental revenues to be generated by the Sin Tax Law.
In his comments to the draft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the law, Ona does not want UP-PGH, which was among those who actively participated in the congressional deliberation, to have any part in the implementation of the measure.
Revenues collected from the Sin Tax Law will directly go to the Department of Health. The IRR specifies that DOH give UP-PGH some of the funds as a research center and by participating in decisions on human resources issues among health personnel.
But in his letter to Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima dated 26 December 2013, Ona asked to “delete the last sentence of the Rule III of Sec. 5 of the IRR which specifies UP-PGH as the premiere national university hospital that DOH should primarily engage for research to support universal health care.”
Ona said that “even before the passage of Republic Act 10532, the DOH had already established a ‘research reference hub’ under Department Order No. 2012-0197.”
“The said DO itself does not prescribe a sole supplier to conduct health research, rather, it recognizes [a] network of research institutions such as the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), National Institute of Health of UP, and other institutes (NIH-UP), including the UP School System of Economics through the Health Policy Development Program (HPDP),” he noted.
The letter came at a time when the Department of Health, Department of Finance, Department of Budget, and some health advocacy groups are set to have a final meeting to discuss the IRR today (January 13).
Not even consultations with UP-PGH
Ona also questioned a provision in the draft IRR that requires the “mandatory consultation solely with the UP PGH…with regard to guidelines for the deployment of physicians graduating from residency training programs in government hospitals.”
According to Ona, “most of such government hospitals are, in fact, DOH regional hospitals and/or medical centers—and the DOH has its own Health Human Resource Development Bureau” so consultation with UP PGH is not necessary.
“Then there is very specific prescription for the DOH to, in collaboration with the UP-PGH and in consultation with LGUs, to develop an evidence-based Human Resources for Health (HRR) Master Plan,” he pointed out.
Ona observed that it was “the third instance wherein UP PGH is cited as a required/mandatory participant or sole provider in health policy.”
“Please delete specific mention of UP-PGH in the first sentence in Rule VI Sec. 3(d) which cites collaboration with UP-PGH for DOH to develop an evidence-based Human Resource for Health Master Plan,” he said.
Ona insisted that DOH already collaborates with several institutions like the NIH UP, Commission on Higher Education, UP School of Economics through HPDP, and the Professional Regulation Commission.
He said that the HRR Master Plan “tackles all phases from production and entrance of HRH to the workforce. UP-Manila and its subordinate institutions have no authority over the maintenance and exit of HRH from the health sector.”
“The DOH is currently undertaking various efforts to assist UP-PGH and singling it out as a special institution for inclusion in the IRR is not necessary and might be counterproductive in generating participation of other institution in the health sector.” (MNS)