Sotto: Why bigger fund for contraceptives than drug rehab?
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III question the health department's proposed 2015 budget for drug rehabilitation centers which, he said, is not as huge compared to the allocation for family planning commodities.
At least 13 government-run drug rehabilitation centers will get a total allocation of P643 million ($14.30 million)* in 2015, while the department will need P1.03 billion ($22.91 million) to purchase family planning commodities for 2.7 million beneficiaries.
"P1 billion for contraceptives? Ito ang kapos (this is what's lacking): budget for drug rehabilitation centers,” he said during the budget hearing of the Department of Health (DOH) at the Senate Monday, November 24.
Sotto is a staunch critic of the reproductive health (RH) law and an anti-illegal drugs advocate.
Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, DOH’s sponsor during Monday’s plenary, said about 1,800 patients are currently in the 13 rehabilitation centers, with a budget of P10,000 ($222.43) per patient per month.
The average stay of a patient is from 6 months to 1 year.
"P10,000 per patient per month? Maliit ito (this is a small amount), Mr President,” Sotto said. Aside from the funding for those in rehabilitation centers, he said there is a need for more funding to care for those who leave the centers.
Health officials on Tuesday said they are already looking into establishing rehabilitation centers in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Soccsksargen, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
FDA certification for contraceptives
As for the family planning commodities, the allocation for 2015 is meant to purchase subdermal implants, medical supplies for implant insertions, pills, injectables, IUDs, bilateral tubal ligation, and non-scalpel vasectomy.
Sotto asked if these contraceptives already have certification from the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"The Department of Health is awaiting the FDA certification, that's why even for this year 2014, they have not purchased yet,” Guingona explained.
When Sotto asked why a budget will be allocated for supplies that have not been purchased yet, Guingona said it’s better for the budget to be available once the certification is out. (READ: Sotto on RH law: No gain, all pain for PH)
DOH is expecting the release of the certification by first week of December.
Sotto also asked whether or not subdermal implant is an abortifacient. Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin in a separate interview with reporters said it was not.
"He was asking what is its composition – etonogestrel – and then he asked if there's a possibility for subdermal implant to be included among abortifacients, and we said no," she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
She also explained there is a need for the government to subsidize these implants since they are not affordable.
The full implementation of the RH law can be expected by November 30. The law requires government health centers to hand out free contraceptives, mandates sex education in schools, and legalizes post-abortion medical care. (READ: Next in RH battle: Full implementation by DOH, LGUs)
The Supreme Court declared the law as constitutional last April. – Rappler.com
*US$1 = P44.95